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Austria: Civil Partnerships Permitted for Same-Sex Couples

(Nov. 19, 2009) Following weeks of disagreement between Austrian political groups on the subject, on November 17, 2009, the government agreed to permit the registration of civil partnerships for homosexual couples. The new law will become effective on January 1, 2010, if approved by the parliament. As part of the compromise reached with opponents of the move, the civil registry office will still not hold ceremonies for those couples. The partnerships will be registered at municipal or magistrate's offices. (Austria to Allow Civil Partnerships for Homosexual Couples, AFP (North European Service), Nov. 17, 2009, WORLD NEWS CONNECTION No.200911171477.1_0a190041fde721aa (online subscription database).)

Homosexual couples in Austria will now have the same rights as other couples in connection with pensions and alimony and will be able to take each other's names. Adoption and artificial insemination will still be illegal for same-sex couples, according to Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner. (Id.)

While the Minister for Women's Affairs, Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, called the proposal an “unfinished document,” the Conservative Interior Minister, Maria Fekter, approved of the compromise as “a realistic solution.” Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, opposed the whole proposal as it would “create conditions that will ultimately lead to registered partnerships and marriages being given an equal footing.” (Id.)