C-Fam.org 25 July 2014
The highest human rights court in Europe shattered hopes that it would judicially impose same-sex marriage when it told a male to female transsexual and his wife that a civil union should be good enough for them.
European human rights law does not require countries to “grant access to marriage to same-sex couples,” according to a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in a case that tests the remote boundaries of possibility in law and fact.
The parties to the litigation and supporters of same-sex marriage acknowledge the result was predictable. Nevertheless the judgment has a devastating effect on gay rights in Europe, dashing hopes that same-sex “marriage” can become a reality there. The facts of the case are distinctive.
Heli Hämäläinen of Finland had a sex change operation in 2009 to appear anatomically as a woman, despite having fathered a child with his wife of over 10 years in 2002. Before the operation, he tried to change his legal identity from male to female without success.
He sued before the European court when he was told that it would not be possible so long as he remained married, because Finland does not allow persons of the same sex to marry each other. Hämäläinen and his spouse insist that their religious beliefs prevent them from seeking a divorce and that civil unions do not give them the same benefits as marriage in Finnish law.