3 Dec 2009

Austria: Same-sex partners “are not family”

The following case shows how much mistreatment, injustice and even disgust same-sex couples experience in many modern societies and are treated as second-class citizens.

Austria today approved a partnership law for gays and lesbians after weeks of debate. On the European map displaying countries’ recognition of same-sex partnerships, Austria long sticked out as a gray spot with almost no provision among it’s Western neighbours. Finally, the government decided to create a civil union law. However, it is one of the most half-heartedly I’ve ever seen:

While the bill lacks behind marriage in 37 points (edit: there are actually 73), it denies adoption, a common name and even the possibility of having a ceremony in the same localities where straight marriages are usually held. A whole different office will be responsible to hold ceremonies to make sure that ‘evil is separated from good’. Also, a gay non-biological parent is explicitly not allowed to take time off from work when the biological parent falls sick and can’t take care of a child temporarily.

Yet, conservative members of the opposition dismissed the new bill as “a dangerous step towards marriage” and criticised allowing ceremonies that are “de-facto marriage-like”.

The most outrageous and insulting part of this is that the oppositional People’s Party tried everything during the drafting of the bill to make sure same-sex couples are not seen as a “family”; In German language, a surname is mostly called Familienname (“family name”), and this term is used on any form and document where a identification is important. But as soon as an Austrian couple commits to a same-sex partnership, they are not to be regarded as a part of a family anymore and therefore, their surname will be called “Nachname” (literally “surname”). All this despite gay couples having to each keep their own surname. Now, all hotel e.g. will have to print new registration forms.

I know Austria is a pretty conservative country and I heard many stories of racism but its statutory homophobia is just as vile and disgusting,

With information from http://www.ggg.at/index.php?id=62&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=2653&cHash=1f64bb52c9 and http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/1118/1224259040662.html