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Homosexual and Heterosexual Couples Must be Treated Equally

In 2010 the Austrian Government introduced Registered Partnership as a form of legal partnership and an alternative to the traditional Civil Marriage. This form of recognition has some benefits for certain couples over the traditional Civil Marriage but has been reported as intended only for ‘historically disadvantaged groups’, thus it may act as a form of institutionalized segregation. This is discriminatory.

Further to these concerns, it has been reported that a heterosexual couple, Helga Ratzenbock and Martin Seydl, requested the city of Linz to identify them as a Registered Partnership, as they are reported to prefer the obligations of Registered Partnership over Civil Marriage, but were denied this request and subsequently took the case to court.

The Austrian Constitutional Court allowed the city of Linz to exclude Helga Ratzenbock and Martin Seydl from Registered Partnerships on the 22nd of September, 2011. This indicates that the Austrian Government is supporting discrimination against heterosexual couples by failing to provide recognition of their union in a way that is equal to their homosexual counterparts. This suggest that heterosexual and homosexual couples are not treated equitably.

The World Association for Sexual Health expresses concern about this ruling as it is unquestionably discriminatory in nature. It denies people their basic human and sexual right to have their relationships recognised equally by law in a non-discriminatory manner. Austria has signed the European Convention on Human Rights and this legislation is in violation of the commitment Austria has made to this treaty.

The World Association for Sexual Health supports the actions of Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria’s LGBT civil rights organization, in taking this case before the European Court of Human Rights.

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