The European Court of Human Rights has
ruled against a gay couple seeking to marry in Austria, the AP
In a ruling handed down Thursday, the
seven-judge panel ruled unanimously that countries are not obliged to
allow gay marriage.
Horst Michael Schalk and Johann Franz
Kopf challenged Austria's gay marriage ban, but the Strasbourg-based
court rejected the couple's claim that their rights had been
A new law dubbed “marriage light”
by the media took effect on January 1. The law, which grants gay and
lesbian couples many of the benefits and obligations of marriage,
including pension rights and alimony payments in the event of a
split, has been criticized by activists because the law forbids gay
couples from adoption or artificial insemination.
The panel said there was “an emerging
European consensus towards legal recognition of same-sex couples,”
but refused to rule against nations that had not granted such rights.
It was the second setback in as many
weeks for the gay marriage movement in liberal Europe.
A Berlin court has ruled that a gay
couple's Canadian marriage will be recognized as a registered
partnership in Germany. The union gives gay and lesbian couples most
of the rights of marriage except joint adoption and full tax
Seven European countries – Belgium,
the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and most recently
Iceland – have legalized gay marriage. Other countries, including
Germany, Great Britain and France, recognized gay couples with
alternative unions, such as registered partnerships.