Austria’s parliament has passed legislation allowing homosexual partners to enter into formal civil unions.
Lawmakers voted 110-64 in favor of the measure, which will come into effect January 1st. It gives same-sex partners the same rights as heterosexual couples in civil unions in financial areas including tax, pension and maintenance. However, it does not allow same-sex partners to adopt children or receive fertility treatments like IVF or artificial insemination.
Under pressure from a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, in 2003 Austria granted same-sex partners the same rights as opposite-sex unmarried cohabiting couples. While still in opposition, the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPO) announced as part of its platform that it would work not only towards legal civil unions but same-sex “marriage” fully equivalent in law to natural marriage. The party is now the leader of Austria’s coalition government.
The junior coalition partners, the People’s Party, described in the media as the “conservative” party, passed the bill with the restrictions against adoption and artificial procreation and insisted that homosexual civil unions not be allowed at local registry offices. Homosexual partners will have to register at the municipal office or the magistrate’s office.
But Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, SPÖ women’s affairs minister assured homosexual activists that the restrictions are merely temporary.
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