Spanish court denies pension to Romani widow

On February 25, 2000, the Spanish non-governmental organisation Union Romani reported that the Catalonian High Court in Barcelona had ruled that, in the absence of civil marriage or civil registration, traditional Romani marriage is not sufficient to entitle a Romani woman to widow’s pension. In Spain, religious and civil marriages take place during the church service in the case of Catholic weddings. A 1992 Law on Religious Freedoms permits Jews, Muslims and non-Catholic Christians to marry according to their own religious traditions and thereafter to record their marriage in the civil register. The 1992 law does not permit registration based on traditional Romani weddings.

In response to the Catalonian High Court decision, the Spanish Romani Women’s Federation Kamira prepared an amendment to the 1992 law aimed at the recognition of Romani wedding traditions. The proposed amendment will first be presented in the parliament of Aragon and eventually submitted to the Spanish parliament. The issue has triggered public debate on the legally accepted age of marriage, acceptability of marriage between close blood relations, and the ability of Spanish society to tolerate certain traditional Romani practices related to the proof of virginity.

(ERRC, Union Romani)

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