Registered Partnership: Pink Triangle of Austria´s Law of Names Goes to Strasbourg
The Austrian Supreme Administrative Court just has decided not (!) to end the labelling of same-gender couples by a special category of names. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria´s LGBT-rights organization, now takes the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
2010 Austria introduced registered partnership but combined this progress for same-gender couples with extraordinary maliciousness. Who enters registered partnership, the Registered Partnership Bill established, loses his family name and receives a second name instead. “Second names” (“Nachname”) are a new name category. It has been introduced solely for persons in a registered, thus same-gender, partnership. A second name therefore labels a person as homosexual. Second names thus work as the Pink Triangle of Austria´s law of names.
The last time before when a particular social group had been labelled with a special category of names was by the “Second Decree on the Implementation of the Act on the Change of Family Names and First Names” of the year 1939. This decree had ordered the labelling of Jews by the obligatory first names Israel and Sara …
Constitutional Court not interested
Christina Bauer had registered her partnership with Daniela Bauer in Germany. Daniela Bauer, as a German citizen still has a family name, as her name is determined by German law. Christina Bauer is an Austrian citizen and therefore applied to the civil registry office to establish that she still has a family name. The office rejected her application and she turned to the high courts.
The Constitutional Court declined to hear the case (VfGH 23.06.2010, B 582/10).
And the Administrative Supreme Court declared the application inadmissible on the ground that she should have used another remedy (to get a decision on whether she still has a family name), namely to ask the civil registry to issue a partnership-certificate displaying her name as a family name instead of a second name (VwGH 29.11.2010, 2010/17/0080).
Christina Bauer did as the Administrative Supreme Court told her and applied to the City of Vienna to issue such a partnership-certificate. The magistrate refused on the basis that she already had a German partnership-certificate. The Vienna governor dismissed the appeal, stressed that Miss Bauer had lost her family name due to the registration of her partnership and denied that this violated her human rights.
Supreme Administrative Court fools the applicant
Christina Bauer again turned to the high courts. The Constitutional Court again declined to hear the case (VfGH 26.11.2012, B 1253/11). And the Administrative Supreme Court – despite its prior judgment (see above) – now ruled that Miss Bauer cannot claim an Austrian partnership-certificate (VwGH 23.09.2014, 2012/01/0005). Its judgment of 2010 to the opposite the court declared irrelevant. The court stressed that it changed its mind …
„This is clear denial of justice. Same-gender couples not just get labelled by a special name category but the courts even refuse to issue a decision on the lawfulness of this labelling“, says RKL-president and counsel of applicant Dr. Helmut Graupner, „But the fight is not over yet. We are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights“.
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 so prominent members as former Prime Minister Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, President of Federal Parliament Mag. Barbara Prammer, former Minister of Justice Mag. Karin Gastinger, former Federal Ombudsman and MP Mag. Terezija Stoisits, MP Petra Bayr, former MP Gerald Grosz, 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. Manfred Nowak and the well-known human-rights experts Dr. Lilian Hofmeister and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hannes Tretter, 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, legal gender studies experts aoProf. Dr. Elisabeth Holzleithner und Univ.-Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Benke, 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).
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