One More Inequality between Marriage and Registered Partnership turned down by Constitutional Court
Rechtskomitee LAMBDA calls on the government to allow reason to prevail
In a decision delivered today the Austrian Constitutional Court turned down another discrimination of registered vs married couples. Registered partners could acquire a joint surname only at registration while spouses can choose a joint family name also at any time later. Such a statutory provision discriminates against registered couples and violates equality before the law. The Constitutional Court therefore turned it down and stressed again that also same-sex couples enjoy the constitutional protection of the family. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation, called on the federal government to allow reason to prevail and repeal all the differences between registered partners and spouses.
Last fall the Constitutional Court had already turned down the hyphen-discrimination. With its decision of 22 September 2011 the Court made clear that the joint name in registered partnerships has to be connected with a hyphen, as it is the case in marriage (B 518/11).
Jörg Eipper Kaiser, represented by RKL-president Dr. Helmut Graupner, at registgration of his partnership only was allowed a double-name without a hyphen. Later on he applied to change it into a double-name connected with a hyphen (“Eipper-Kaiser”) and carried his case, which had been supported also by the Styrian NGO Rosa Lila PantherInnen, up to the Constitutional Court.
Separation on principle is inadmissible
The Constitutional Court, on 22 Septebmer 2011, decided, that also registered partners, as married partners, connect their double-names by a hyphen. Also same-sex couples, the 13 judges said, do enjoy the constitutional protection of the family (par 21). Disadvantageous treatment of registered versus married couples require particularly serious reasons (par 21f). And the Court emphasized that separation as an end in itself (on principle) is inadmissible (par. 23).
Thus registered partners had been put on the same footing as marriage, for the future. For those who, as Mr. Eipper Kaiser, already had registered their partnership, inequality remained. Spouses could acquire a double-name at any time, also after the conduction of marriage, while registered partners, by explicit statutory regulation, could do so only at registration. With its judgment delivered toady the Constitutional Court turned down also this discrimination (VfGH 03.03.2012, G 131/11), with the same reasoning as last fall.
„In the light of this again crystal clear judgment we are calling upon the federal government to finally allow reason to prevail“, says Dr. Helmut Graupner, president of Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL) and counsel of Mr. Eipper Kaiser, “If they continue prohibiting marriage, they should at least ultimately repeal the other still prevailing 59 differences between registered partnership and marriage”.
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 as prominent members as former Prime Minister Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, President of Federal Parliament Mag. Barbara Prammer, former Minister of Justice Mag. Karin Gastinger, the Honorary President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Peter Schieder, Federal Ombudsman Mag. Terezija Stoisits, 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. Hannes Tretter, and the well-known human-rights experts Dr. Lilian Hofmeister and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak, 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, 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).
List of inequalities between marriage and registered partnership in Austria: