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One More Inequality between Marriage and Registered Partnership turned down by Constitutional Court | Austria

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”.

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