Legalization of same-sex unions: constitutional review

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Author: Anastasiya Isaeva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2020-2-72-87

Keywords: European Court of Justice; family; legal regulation; marriage relationship; normativity; same-sex union; sexual autonomy; the legal status of the individual


The article discusses the foreign experience of legal regulation of same-sex unions and the prospects for their legalization in Russia. It is determined that in those countries where homosexual relations are legalized in one form or another, the approach to their normative design is not the same. At the same time, international institutions do not seek to impose one opinion or another on the possibility of legalizing same-sex unions through a judicial interpretation of international human rights law and leave this issue for each state to independently resolve. In some cases, a unified legal regulation is introduced at the national level for same-sex and same-sex couples. In others, marriage is defined solely as a union of a man and a woman, and other legal institutions are introduced for homosexual couples, for example, civil partnership, registered partnership, free union, etc. In this case, as well as in those countries where same-sex relations are not legalized at all, difficulties arise because of the need to regulate the recognition of homosexual marriages concluded abroad. They should be resolved in such a way that the very essence of the legal relationship is not distorted, the goals of legal regulation, and also take into account national characteristics and law enforcement practice. Although in recent years in a number of foreign countries, one can note a tendency to revise the concept of marriage and the inclusion of same-sex couples in it, but at the moment it is characteristic only for a relatively small number of countries in the world. The author came to the conclusion that it is possible to legalize same-sex unions if there is a consensus on this issue in a society that has not yet been achieved in the Russian Federation. Moreover, the author determined that most of the legal consequences of marriage by same-sex partners can be achieved without state registration of marriage, within other legal institutions. The analysis of acts of law enforcement practice identifies the most common and significant arguments in favor of the traditional understanding of marriage, which focus on its importance for childbearing and raising children. In Russia, this goal of marriage in legal norms is not clearly defined and needs a critical assessment.

About the author: Anastasia Isaeva – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia.

Citation: Isaeva A. (2020) Legalizatsiya odnopolykh soyuzov: konstitutsionno-pravovoy obzor [Legalization of same-sex unions: constitutional review]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.2, pp.72–87. (In Russian).


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