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Conflicts of law and the mutual recognition of same-sex unions in the EU

Davis, S. M. (2015) Conflicts of law and the mutual recognition of same-sex unions in the EU. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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My thesis uses legal arguments to demonstrate a requirement for recognition of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships between EU Member States. I draw on the US experience, where arguments for recognition of marriages void in some states previously arose in relation to interracial marriages. I show how there the issue of recognition today depends on conflicts of law and its interface with US constitutional freedoms against discrimination. I introduce the themes of the importance of domicile, the role of the public policy exception, vested rights, and relevant US constitutional freedoms. Recognition in the EU also depends on managing the tension between private international law and freedoms guaranteed by higher norms, in this case the EU Treaties and the European Convention on Human Rights. I set out the inconsistencies between various private international law systems and the problems this creates. Other difficulties are caused by the use of nationality as a connecting factor to determine personal capacity, and the overuse of the public policy exception. I argue that EU Law can constrain the use of conflicts law or public policy by any Member State where these are used to deny effect to same-sex unions validly formed elsewhere. I address the fact that family law falls only partly within Union competence, that existing EU Directives have had limited success at achieving full equality and that powers to implement new measures have not been used to their full potential. However, Treaty provisions outlawing discrimination on grounds of nationality can be interpreted so as to require recognition in many cases. Treaty citizenship rights can also be interpreted favourably to mandate recognition, once private international law is itself recognised as an obstacle to free movement. Finally, evolving interpretations of the European Convention on Human Rights may also support claims for cross-border recognition of existing relationships.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Stychin, C. and James, G.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Law
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:58783


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