Austria Constitutional Court: Same Ceremony as for Marriage

Registered Partnership

Constitutional Court: Same Ceremony as for Marriage

RKL - Rechtskomitee Lambda

Rechtskomitee LAMBDA sees governing coalition disgraced

In a decision delivered today the Austrian Constitutional Court has ordered to apply the same ceremony (wedding vow, witnesses etc.) for the formation of registered partnerships as for marriage. And it started proceedings to repeal the law prohibiting the performance registered partnerships outside the authority´s office-rooms. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation, welcomes the decision and sees the federal governing coalition disgraced as just last month they have passed this law anew.

RKL-Secretary General Walter Dietz and his partner Boontawee Suttasom are living in Vienna and have been a couple for over 17 years. Manfred Hörmann and Felix Moser have been a couple for many years and are jointly running a farm in Stallhofen in Styria. Both couples had applied for the performance of a registered partnership like a “dream wedding” as it is offered to marrying couples, namely by a wedding vow in front of witnesses on the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel and their own farm.

Decision on a wedding-dreamdate (12.12.12)

Austrian federal law prohibits the formation of registered partnerships outside the authority´s office-rooms (only exception: prisoners). Outside, like in the Giant Ferris Wheel, in a castle or on a farm; there civil servants are only allowed to hand over the documents (after the formation of the partnership within the office-rooms).

Both couples´ applications have been rejected and the case went up to the Constitutional Court, which now agreed with the applicants (VfGH 12.12.12, B 125/11, B 138/11).

Also same-sex couples enjoy the protection of family life under the European Convention of Human Rights and differences between marriage and registered partnership can only be justified by particularly serious reasons, the Constitutional Court said in its decision taken on a wedding-dreamdate (12.12.12).

Worldwide unique discrimination

The 14 constitutional judges could find no reasonable justification for the exclusion of a wedding vow and of witnesses. Neither could they find a basis for this legal practice in the legislation. They therefore ordered that authorities, with immediate effect, have to apply the same ceremony for registered partnerships as for marriages (including the wedding vow, the dictum that the partners now are lawfully bonded spouses or registered partners, and, if the couples so wish, including witnesses).

Also for the prohibition on the performance of registered partnerships outside the authority´s office-rooms the Constitutional Court could find no reasonable justification. In no other area authorities are obliged to confine their administrative acts to their office-rooms, the Court said and instigated proceedings to repeal this law.

The prohibition on the performance of registered partnerships outside the authority´s office-rooms is an Austrian anomaly. No other country in the world ever applied such discrimination. Nevertheless the federal governing coalition just one month (!) ago has passed this law anew.

„The Constitutional Court´s decision disgraces the federal government to the bone“, says Dr. Helmut Graupner, president of Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL) and counsel of the applicants, “the government should start to govern and repeal all the discriminations of registered partnership instead of leaving this workload to the courts”.

Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), founded in 1991, on a supra-partisan and denominational level is working for the implementation of human rights for homo- and bisexual men and women. In its honorary board it convenes as prominent members as former Prime Minister Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, President of Federal Parliament Mag. Barbara Prammer, former Minister of Justice Mag. Karin Gastinger, the Honorary President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Peter Schieder, Federal Ombudsman Mag. Terezija Stoisits, Senator Marco Schreuder, former Director of Public Security Dr. Erik Buxbaum, the former President of National Judges Association Dr. Barbara Helige, the Chairwoman of the National Judges Association’s Working Party on Fundamental Rights Dr. Mia Wittmann-Tiwald, the Vice-President of the Vienna Bar-Association Dr. Elisabeth Rech, the former President of D.A.S.-legal expenses insurance company Dr. Franz Kronsteiner, the President of Weisser Ring Dr. Udo Jesionek, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Austria Mag. Heinz Patzelt, the Vice-Chairperson of the Executive Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hannes Tretter, and the well-known human-rights experts Dr. Lilian Hofmeister and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak, the constitutional law professors Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Brünner, Univ-Prof. Dr. Bernd-Christian Funk, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heinz Mayer and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ewald Wiederin, famous child- and adolescent psychiatrist Univ.-Prof. Dr. Max Friedrich and the Vienna Child- and Youth-Ombudspersons DSA Monika Pinterits and Dr. Anton Schmid, sexologists Univ.-Prof. Dr. Josef Christian Aigner, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rotraud Perner and Univ.-Lekt. Mag. Johannes Wahala, Life-Ball-Organisor Gery Keszler and many more. October 2nd, 2006, RKL’s 15 years anniversary has been celebrated in historic Ceremonial Act “Against Sexual Apartheid” in the lower chamber of Austrian federal parliament. This first honouring of an lgbt organisation in the plenary session hall of a national parliament worldwide took place in attendance of over 500 guests including highest representatives from the judiciary, administration and politics (http://www.rklambda.at/festakt/index.htm). Since 2010 RKL is a member of the Fundamental Rights Platform of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (www.fra.europa.eu).

More information:
Rechtskomitee LAMBDA

Phone +43 1 876 30 61
Mobile +43 676 309 47 37)
office@RKLambda.at
www.RKLambda.at

18 January 2013

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