Austria’s unusual marriage laws are being called into question by five children of same-sex parents, protesting the fact that equal marriage is not yet legal in the country.
The Administrative Court in Vienna heard the first of five cases today, in which the children and their parents are protesting the ban on same-sex marriage in the hope of changing the law to allow the children to become ‘legitimate’ children with married parents.
Unusually, Austria grants identical family rights to same-sex couples as opposite-sex couples; any couple is allowed to apply for second-parent-adoption, joint adoption, or medically assisted conception – yet they are not allowed to get married.
The law also allows for automatic co-parenthood for registered lesbian couples and recognition of motherhood in unregistered lesbian couples, in the same way an unmarried father in a heterosexual couple would be recognized in law.
Campaigners from the ‘Ehe Gleich?’ (Marriage Equality?) group have set up a petition to lift the ban on marriage for same-sex couples; so far, more than 45,000 people have signed.
The group have also released a series of compelling posters with parents and grandparents asking the question: ‘Why should our child have to be illegitimate?’
Dr Helmut Graupner, who is representing the five families, said: ‘Austria made the second, third, fourth and fifth step [towards marriage equality] before the first.’
‘The marriage ban must fall, for the sake of the children.’
Graupner argues that when the marriage ban was brought before the Austrian Constitutional Court in 2012, marriage was ‘distinguished’ from other relationships as it was ‘oriented towards the ability, in principle, to parent’, unlike same-sex relationships at the time.
Nowadays, however, same-sex couples are equality oriented towards parenthood, he argues, because they have identical parental rights.
Just like in Germany, the Austrian coalition government remains divided on the issue; Social Democrat Chancellor Werner Feymann is in favor of equal treatment, while the conservative party remains against same-sex marriage.
Austrian citizens can sign the Ehe Gleich? petition on the campaign website.