Rights on the Move – Rainbow Families in Europe

“Rights on the move” looks at European protection of the rights of European families moving from one Member State to another and residing within the EU. The focus will not be on all families, but on a specific category, i.e. rainbow families. These are families where the parental roles are played by persons of the same gender who live in a mutual loving relationship. Grant of family status such as marriage and partnership, access to assisted reproductive technologies and adoption and legal protection in critical situations (family crisis, death, etc.) vary greatly in the Union. The diversity of regulations within the EU, and the theoretically exclusive competence of the Member States in the family law field, expose these families to considerable restrictions on movement within the EU. Critical situations arise due to lack of recognition of rights and status. The freedom of movement and residence of European citizens, the protection of private and family life as guaranteed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the ECHR and the well-being of children become at stake.

The project focuses on children rather than on the couple alone because the most prominent victims of discrimination, or simply of non-harmonisation, are the children of these families. By adopting a child-oriented approach, ‘Rights on the move’ aims at unravelling how the freedom of movement should be read in compliance with the Charter, the European citizenship rights of the child and other supranational sources.

Project leaflet


Project execution

The two-year project will carry out an unprecedented Union-wide survey and research on how Directive 2004/38/EC applies today to rainbow families in all EU Member States (including Croatia) and on access to parenthood in the EU…

Academic research is associated with a dialogue with relevant stakeholders involved in the project (employers’ association, trade unions, and rainbow families). The project team will collect experiences and information on the major obstacles in daily life faced by rainbow families moving within the EU, with special attention being devoted to the parent-child relationship and the working environment. Legal publications will describe the context today, offer an assessment of compliance with EU standards and show potentialities that are too much unexplored and unexploited. A white paper will suggest solutions to overcome these obstacles.

The results of the legal research are conveyed by means of central training and several regional ones for the judiciary, legal practitioners of NGOs and public authorities. Awareness among the key beneficiaries of the project is increased by meeting the urgent need of a multilingual handbook on the European protection of rainbow families. This will be launched with the white paper at an international conference on rainbow families. The project will contribute to setting up informal networks of legal actors for sharing experience and cooperative work.


One of the tasks of the Peace Institute was to prepare a White Paper titled ”Rights on the Move – Rainbow Families in Europe” in five languages. The White Paper contains an overview of all relevant fields of the EU law important for free movement of rainbow families – recognition of relationship and divorce, immigration, adoption, reproductive rights, children’s rights and parental responsibilities, employment benefits and pensions, property rights, recognition of transgender and intersex status. It also contains recommendations for the institutions of the European Union.

White Paper in English
White Paper in Italian
White Paper in Spanish
White Paper in French
White Paper in German


University of Trento, Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Toulouse III P. Sabatier, CGIL Nuovi diritti, Cara Friend


European Commission and Open Society Foundations