The Austrian Parliament approved a bill
Thursday that recognizes gay and lesbian relationships, the AP
The new law creates a separate legal
framework for gay couples that includes many of the benefits and
obligations of marriage, including pension rights and alimony
payments in the event of a split. But the law also bans gay couples
from adoption or artificial insemination. Austrian media called the
new union “marriage light.”
The law will take effect on January 1.
Gay activists urged lawmakers to vote
in favor of the legislation, despite its limitations. The liberal
Greens Party argued the bill discriminated against gay couples and
violated EU anti-discrimination policy.
Opponents of the measure include the
right-wing Freedom Party, which rejected the bill outright.
Herbert Kickler, secretary general of
the Freedom Party, called the bill a “crusade against families,”
while Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache said it “undermined
Proponents of the measure called it
“the first step in the right direction.”
Many western European countries
recognize the relationships of gay couples, including full marriage
in Sweden and Spain and civil partnerships in England.