Strasbourg Court's Judgment on Same-Sex Marriage: A Closer Look
By: Joyceline Stephens - Kyzzfmonline
June 23, 2023


The recent judgment of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, regarding same-sex marriage has sparked significant debate.

The unanimous ruling by the 47 judges from the Council of Europe member countries, representing the Plenary Court of Strasbourg, has been met with surprise due to its limited coverage in the media.

The judgment asserts that there is no inherent right to same-sex marriage, drawing upon various philosophical, anthropological, scientific, and legal considerations. This article aims to explore the key points of the ruling, highlighting the Court's interpretation of relevant human rights conventions.

The Court's Rationale

The judgment was primarily based on Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which governs the right to marry. The Court examined the natural order, common sense, scientific reports, and positive law to support its conclusions.

In addition to Article 12, the Court also referred to the resolutions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Article 17 of the San José Act) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 23). These resolutions emphasized that the concept of family encompasses the traditional understanding of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, and governments are not obligated to extend marriage to same-sex couples.

Non-Discrimination and State Discretion

Addressing the principle of non-discrimination, the Court clarified that states have the freedom to reserve marriage exclusively for heterosexual couples.

According to their interpretation, such a reservation does not constitute discrimination. The Court's reasoning rests on the understanding that the concept of marriage has traditionally been defined as the union between a man and a woman. Therefore, states retain the authority to determine the scope of marriage based on their cultural, social, and legal frameworks.

Debate and Implications

The Court's judgment has ignited debates surrounding the rights of same-sex couples, the role of international human rights conventions, and the scope of state sovereignty. Advocates for marriage equality argue that the ruling fails to recognize the evolving understanding of marriage and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

They contend that the principle of non-discrimination should encompass equal access to marriage for all consenting adults, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


The unanimous judgment by the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg regarding same-sex marriage has garnered attention for its stance against recognizing a right to same-sex marriage.

The Court's decision rests on interpretations of human rights conventions, particularly emphasizing the traditional understanding of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

However, the ruling has also sparked discussions regarding the evolving nature of societal norms and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. As societal attitudes continue to evolve, further debates and legal challenges on this topic are likely to arise.