Same-sex marriage between men recognised in Russia?

Yesterday in mainstream media reports surfaced that Russia, for the first time, recognised the same-sex marriage between two men - Evgeniy Voitsekhovsky and Pavel Stotsko, who officially married in Copenhagen, where same-sex unions have been legalised. They submitted their registration documents, together with certified translations, to the MFC in Moscow. Their passports were stamped on the marital status page, confirming registration of the marriage. The government worker formalised the documents ‘without questions or even a change of expression’; all in all, the process took about five minutes, said Stotsko and Voitsekhovsky. But, unfortunately, there are certain nuances to this situation which can cast doubt on the legitimacy of this marriage, and all same-sex unions concluded by Russian citizens abroad. Lawyer Dmitry Bartnenev comments. 

To me as a lawyer, the legitimacy of the marriage and its outcomes, concluded abroad and abiding by the laws of a foreign country, remain unclear. Will Russian legislation recognise the marriage, and the fact that it has been confirmed by the passport stamp, but also the legal consequences that this marriage gives rise to in Russia is still an open question. What are the consequences of this? For example, what of the recognition of joint-acquiry of property of same-sex spouses? The recognition of hereditary rights? Parental rights? In my opinion, this is something that can create complications. I would not optimistically assess the decision of the MFC, which is more likely simply a technical confirmation of marriage abroad.

In practice, if these two men would attempt to realise their marriage rights in Russia, as a result of a registered marriage in Russia, and if they manage to do this (i.e the Russian authorities successfully recognise them as spouses), only then will we be able to confirm that such foreign marriages are recognised in Russia. Nonetheless, this case is indicative, and Russian authorities will have to admit that registered same-sex marriages are becoming a reality. Russian authorities are facing foreigners in Russia, registered in same-sex relationships, and employees of consular and diplomatic services who visit with their spouses. After all, there is a large number of Russia citizens entering such marriages abroad.

I think that one way or another, the issues of recognizing the limited legal consequences of such same-sex marriages will soon be resolved and will be resolved positively, because it will be difficult to fence off the fact that in many European countries, such relations are in fact recognized. However, the recognition of parental relations is likely to remain an issue.

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