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Austria to Allow Civil Partnerships for Gay and Lesbian Couples

Austria's government has approved civil partnerships for same-sex couples, Agence France Presse reports:

Austria "The compromise, achieved after weeks of wrangling between the ruling Social Democrats and their conservative coalition partner in government, will give gay couples equal rights to heterosexuals with regards to pensions and alimony. Partners will also be able to take each other's name, if they wish. But the new law will continue to ban adoption or artificial insemination for gay couples, said Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner, who had put forward the draft."

Same-sex couples will also be forced to formalize their relationships at the municipal office or the magistrate's office, and not at the civil registry's office as part of the compromise, after complaints from conservative groups.

The law, once given final approval by parliament, goes into effect on January 1.

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  1. Well, how very LAST CENTURY of them!

    Coming from a European country, this is not exactly groundbreaking.

    Posted by: Zeke | Nov 17, 2009 2:41:49 PM

  2. Watch out for the lederhosen. And yes, Zeke, how very last century. But I've always been surprised at how the European nations have a harder time with adoption than unions/marriage. Thankfully, in the US, the kids usually get proper protection.

    Posted by: David R. | Nov 17, 2009 2:44:40 PM

  3. That's great, but what is up with no gay adoption in Austria? So it is still separate and unequal.

    Posted by: DairyQueen | Nov 17, 2009 2:47:43 PM

  4. ohh please LGBT peole should refuse this hands down! Who are they to tell someone IF they can or can not have a child thru artificla insemination??? Talk about blatant discrimination....YIKES. this one of those incrimental steps...if so, i'd say - NO THANKS!

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Nov 17, 2009 3:06:46 PM

  5. Actually, if you follow Austrian politics at all (I have, having lived there, etc.) this is a really big step in a country where 80% still claim to be staunchly Catholic. Austria is beginning to swing back towards the left after veiled neo-Nazi Joerg Haider's BZÖ party captured 27% of the vote in 1998. Due to the consensus nature of Austrian politics and the need for conservative/progressive coalitions, change tends to happen slow there, but this is indeed a good first step.

    Posted by: Ben | Nov 17, 2009 3:12:50 PM

  6. FINALLY! I am American and my husband is German, and we had to move to Germany in order to stay together, because neither the USA nor Austria would recognize our relationship. While this law isn't perfect (and we have to register it at the same place people register their dogs and cars instead of where straight people have their civil marriages done), it is horribly needed and at least a first good step.

    Incidentally, the law actually offers a lot more rights that the German one, so that is nice, and it includes immigration rights - which aren't available anywhere in the USA for same-sex couples.

    Posted by: Andy | Nov 17, 2009 3:29:06 PM

  7. Oops - I meant, of course, that my husband is AUSTRIAN.

    And this law is much better than anything offered American couples because it is recognized by the Austrian federal government as equal to marriage except for the three things mentioned - registered somewhere else, no adoption, and no artificial insemination.

    Posted by: Andy | Nov 17, 2009 3:31:28 PM

  8. Call me naive but...

    how do you really enforce the insemination ban? Why couldn't the woman just appear alone for the procedure and lie? Or take matters into her own hands/pipette? I know this still leaves issues of parental rights, but what else can they really do? Some insight please...

    Posted by: Travis | Nov 17, 2009 3:33:18 PM

  9. It's hard to see this as a step forward when the terms are so unequal and insulting.
    It would be like an Arabian country announcing that women will still not be allowed to vote but will be allowed to "cast ballots" that will be counted as two-fifths of a man's vote, as long as they don't say anything out loud about issues.
    Can't we just all have equality under the law already?
    The E.U. should not overlook such inequalies a member state's treatment of citizens.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 17, 2009 3:36:32 PM

  10. It's too bad most countries in western Europe is so anti-gay that adoption rights are nowhere to be found. Even France doesn't allow it, technically.

    Posted by: Bruno | Nov 17, 2009 3:43:51 PM

  11. I'm British and my boyfriend is American. We've been together 16 years and in a UK civil partnership for 3 years. We've also lived in Vienna for 15 years now and Austria until now did not recognise our UK partnership. This law might not be perfect but it's GREAT news in a country where progress can be VERY slow. I can now sleep tonight knowing that if anything happens to me my partner will get my pension and have no legal worries over inheritance. Aside from adoption, artificial insemination and the ceremony rules, every legal right given to married heterosexuals will now be afforded to us. The fight continues for those last reminding rights but it's still a much better law that those in Germany and France and those who helped achieve it have a right to be proud.

    Posted by: Paul | Nov 17, 2009 3:58:56 PM

  12. WOW, Austria now more progressive than France or Germany. Big surprise. With the Vice-Chancellor of Germany being openly gay, and a burning desire to never be seen as inferior to those ultra-catholic Austrians, maybe some change for the better will happen in Germany (so long as the Bavarians are kept out of the decision making).

    Still, compared to the US, I'd take the German or French arrangement any day. BTW, what good are adoption rights if your relationship isn't recognized?

    Posted by: Willig | Nov 17, 2009 4:24:08 PM

  13. Where are my paintings? I went to the swiss, and they sent me here. Where's my artwork?

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 4:28:18 PM

  14. Plenty of EU members don't have any legal recognition of same-sex couples - at least two actually amended their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage (Poland and Latvia). So by European standards, Austria's jumped at least to the middle of the pack.

    Posted by: Ben | Nov 17, 2009 4:39:18 PM

  15. Sorry - just looked it up. Four EU nations have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage (add Bulgaria and Latvia). That's the same number as allow it. With Austria's new legislation, it would become one of 10 EU states to offer an intermediate legal status for gays (not counting unregistered partnerships).

    Posted by: Ben | Nov 17, 2009 4:44:05 PM

  16. Go, potatoes!!!

    Hunnies---it's Austria after all---think Southeast Missouri with an accent! Think people in the southern part of Austria who still wax nostalgic after Adolf Hitler. Think old, old Austrians whose eyes well with tears when they think about Franz Josef.

    Posted by: Perry | Nov 17, 2009 5:20:05 PM

  17. I think, if i recall, the adoption tihng in germany is nolonger the case.

    Posted by: Ben in oakland | Nov 17, 2009 6:44:25 PM

  18. "Same-sex couples will also be forced to formalize their relationships at the municipal office or the magistrate's office, and not at the civil registry's office as part of the compromise"

    That's incredibly offensive. It clearly says to gay people that your relationships aren't equal to straight couples. What exactly would happen if they were allowed to go to the civil registry's office? All the heterosexual relationships would be destroyed?

    Posted by: David in Houston | Nov 17, 2009 7:06:46 PM

  19. NEWSFLASH Euros! There are American states that not only recognize same sex unions, but marriage. I live in one of them, Massachusetts. And single and married gay adoption is legal. In fact most American states permit gay adoption.

    Massachusetts not only allows gay marriage and adoption, but ended capital punishment in 1948, long before many European countries, the UK, Canada. It was also the first government on Earth to outlaw slavery.

    I get irritated by smug Euros, Brits, Canadians bragging about how superior and progressive they are compared to America.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 17, 2009 9:50:37 PM

  20. And there's always been separation of church and state in the U.S., with no established state religion, unlike pretty much all of Europe and England, where even the head of state, Queen Elizabeth, is also the titular head of the Church of England and not allowed to marry outside that faith. A British king or queen, the official head of state for the UK and many commonwealth countries, must be protestant Church of England. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, other protestant faiths are banned from succession.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 17, 2009 9:56:45 PM

  21. @ WILLIG: adoption rights are very important to the child, even if the parent's relationship isn't fully recognized.

    @ JOHN IN BOSTON: almost. You are still legal strangers when it comes to the feds, whereas the Euro nations are making national laws.

    Washington State: the first to grant women the vote (1869); the first to decriminalize sodomy (1976).

    Posted by: David R. | Nov 18, 2009 1:16:10 AM

  22. Of course federal law over-rides. But that still doesn't negate what local/state governments have accomplished. GAYS CAN LEGALLY MARRY IN A HANDFUL OF STATES. IT'S A FACT. Gays can adopt in most states. Fact.

    Washington State legalized sodomy in the 70's? Massachusetts still has colonial laws on the books that bans and punishes those who talk back to their parents or who spy and gossip about others. Up until the mid-late 80's everything closed in Massachusetts on Sunday, the sabbath. It was called a blue law because in colonial times such laws were printed on blue color paper.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 18, 2009 8:10:59 AM

  23. And David, American states and Canadian provinces have a lot of freedom that regions of European countries don't have. European nations and the UK are very centralized, much smaller, and often everything revolves culturally, socially, politically, ET AL around one city like Paris, London, ET AL The U.S. is much more de-centralized and obviously MUCH larger than western European nations. It is also IMO, and according to statistics, more diverse.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 18, 2009 8:15:56 AM

  24. @John in Boston

    America is larger perhaps.

    But size alone doesn't mean much.

    Anyone who has driven across the country on the Interstate knows that most of this country is still horribly backward and rural. Between Portland and San Francisco on I-5, for example, is 10 hours of tedious redneck towns. Gas stations, McDonalds, churches, pickup trucks with shotgun racks, and little else.

    And there's little doubt that these homogenous communities are the majority and not just part of some "diverse" equilibrium. This is especially obvious on election day, when the little specks of Democratic blue - the big cities - are vastly outnumbered by a sea of Republican red.

    Posted by: John | Nov 18, 2009 10:39:27 AM

  25. I hear you. You do realize much of Europe and the UK is similarly homogeneous and bland? Even the suburbs of Paris are nothing to write home about.

    Statistics do show the United States to be the most racially diverse western nation, and along with Canada, the most ethnically diverse. Even the UK and France don't compare statistically to the diversity of the U.S. and Canada. Germany, Spain, Italy, the smaller Euro nations are not in the same league of diversity as the U.S. or even the UK and France.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 18, 2009 6:22:17 PM

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