Same sex marriage back on the table in Austria

Broad approval within the population makes it hard to understand why gay marriage isn't already legal. But so far it's always been stopped by the ÖVP and the FPÖ, the two parties which are most likely going to form the next government.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Same sex marriage back on the table in Austria - NewsMavens
A happy gay couple. Jordan Uhl/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Why this story matters:

Same-sex couples are still not able to legally get married in Austria. But there is a sliver of hope that things might be about to change. This week the Austrian Constitutional Court declared that they will be examining opening marriage to same-sex couples.

The move has been popular, especially on social media. This doesn't come as a surprise as the majority of the Austrian population is in favor of allowing homosexual people to marry. A 2015 Eurobarometer survey showed that 62% of Austrians support same-sex marriage.

This broad approval within the population makes it especially hard to understand why this isn't already legal. But so far, it's always been stopped by the conservative forces in parliament, the ÖVP and the FPÖ, the two parties which after last Sunday's elections are most likely going to form the next government.

While same-sex unions have been legally recognized since Jan 1, 2010, there are still differences and legal disadvantages for same-sex couples compared to married couples. The Constitutional Court believes that these differences are undue discrimination based on sexual orientation and will therefore hopefully soon be a thing of the past. Lawyer Helmut Graupner, president of the "Lambda" committee which supports LBGT people, says Ehe für Alle (Marriage for all) could be coming early next year.

Details from the story:

  • Since 2010 same-sex couples in Austria are able to have their union legally recognized. It is called eingetragene Partnerschaft, or registered partnership. While gaining a lot of legal rights there are still differences between this form of civil union and marriage.
  • In 2013 people in a registered partnership got the right to adopt their partner's children. Since January 2016 any form of adoption by same-sex couples is allowed.
  • Homosexual people got the right to marry in Germany in 2017, a move that reignited the same-sex marriage debate in Austria.
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