Austrian federal parliament (the “Nationalrat”) today (on the International Day of Human Rights) passed a law on registered partnership for same-sex couples (110 : 64 votes). When the law enters into force on 1st Jan 2010 Austria will become the 18th state in Europe legally recognizing same-sex couples. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria’s civil rights organisation for homo- and bisexual as well as transgender women and men, welcomes that Austria finally found its way into the 20th century, and deplores that it did not make it into the 21st century.
The Irish Supreme Court ruled that a gay man who acted as sperm donor for a lesbian couple is entitled to access (contact) though not guardianship (parental responsibility) in respect of the couple’s child. (McD. v. L.) In doing so, the Supreme Court reversed in part an earlier High Court decision denying access on the basis that this would not have been in the best interests of the child. The Supreme Court, however, did uphold ‘for the present time’ the High Court’s decision not to confer guardianship on the father.
The Stockholm Programme adopted by the European Council states (p. 14): "Since diversity enriches the Union, the EU and its Member States must provide a safe environment where differences are respected and the most vulnerable protected. Measures to tackle discrimination, racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and homophobia must be vigorously pursued".
In Schalk & Kopf v. Austria (Application No. 30141/04) the First Section of the Court has postponed the oral hearing on the admissibility and merits of the application to Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 9:00 am. www.echr.coe.int