12:21 | 19th April 2019

News: World

Mon 17 May, 2010
By Danielle Carter

Helga Ratzenboeck and Martin Seydl say they don't want a traditional marriage and insist that the law should be blind to gender and sexuality.

Latest Headlines

Gay Soldiers shouldnt command troops say's Brazillian General.

A Brazilian general’s comment that gay soldiers should not be allowed to command troops sparked fierce criticism today from gay rights groups and a national lawyers’ organisation that champions human rights


Sarah Jessica Parker has given away her tickets to the Sex and the City 2 premier in a bid to raise money for equal LGBT rights.

Five arrested in Kenya over gay wedding

Kenya police on Friday arrested five suspected homosexuals in a coastal resort town after hundreds of residents protested over a planned gay wedding, a local official said.

Prop 8 to be made into a film

Seeking to overcome a broadcast blackout imposed by the US Supreme Court, a pair of Los Angeles filmmakers have undertaken the task of faithfully recreating the federal trial on California’s same-sex marriage ban for the internet – all 60-plus hours of it; every “um,” “yes, your honour” and “objection!”

Heterosexual Austrian couple want civil partnership

  • Send aticle to a friend
  • Send your Comments

A heterosexual Austrian couple have embarked on a court battle to have their relationship legally recognised as a "registered partnership" - a new form of civil union for same-sex couples.

Helga Ratzenboeck and Martin Seydl say they don't want a traditional marriage and insist that the law should be blind to gender and sexuality.

Meanwhile, the kind of pared-down marriage they want is proving a huge hit with straight couples in France, where 95% of couples taking up the pacte civil de solidarite (Pacs) in 2009 were heterosexual.

As the number of straight French couples opting for Pacs has grown, the number of marriages has shrunk, to the point that there are now two couples entering into a Pacs for every three getting married.

In both Austria and France, some gay couples are fighting for the right to full marriage. Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway are currently the only European countries allowing same-sex marriages.

But legal battles for the right to registered partnership, like Ms Ratzenboeck and Mr Seydl's, are rarer.

"The couple involved already have grown up children and are not interested in adopting," says their lawyer, Helmut Graupner.

"They are more interested in a more loose, modern form of partnership with a shorter time period for divorce and lower maintenance obligations afterwards."

Mr Graupner is also representing two Austrian same-sex couples, one gay and other lesbian, wanting a traditional marriage.

He has an argument that applies to both sets of clients: "You can't be a little bit equal, in the same way as you can't be a little bit dead or a little bit pregnant. You can only be equal or unequal."

The Constitutional Court turned down the idea of marriage for gay couples in 2003, on the grounds that the purpose of marriage was reproduction.

But Mr Graupner, who points out that infertile people are allowed to marry, thinks there is now a chance the court will change its mind.

"There are some younger judges and younger judges are normally more open on this question," he says.

Austria is the eighth EU country to have introduced partnerships for same-sex couples. They are very similar, but not the same as marriage. The others are Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia.

Austria's "registered partnerships" do not bring adoption rights or access to fertility treatment, but despite more than 70 differences, gay and lesbian groups tended to see their introduction on 1 January as significant progress for a conservative, Catholic country.

Some, like Kurt Krickler of Viennese gay rights group HOSI, were pleasantly surprised at how far the partnerships went. Particularly surprising, he says, is that that it offers non-Austrian partners a right to work in Austria, where fears about immigration run very high.

Supporters cite a number of reasons why registered partnerships are better than marriages. Dissolving a marriage can take up to six years, while for registered partnerships it takes three at most. The law also puts more emphasis on openness and honesty than on strict sexual fidelity.

"Should we want to get divorced it would be easier, which is good, because marriage is heavily criticised for being too strict," says Joerg Eipper Kaiser, a 34-year-old museum worker in Austria's second city of Graz. Joerg, who was one of the first people to enter into a registered partnership, says his only complaint is that he is not allowed, under the law, to hyphenate his last two names.

The French Pacs has some similarities. There are tax advantages and, for many straight couples, it seems like a low-risk stepping stone to marriage.

Delphine Rorive a 31-year-old management consultant "Pacsed" her boyfriend Frederic Morel, 29, in July last year.

"We just wanted to pay less taxes," she says.

"To us, it was only an administrative process. We had an appointment at the court at 0800 one morning, just the two of us, and 15 minutes later we were outside, Pacsed and ready to go to work, which we did.

"Soon after we decided to organise a fancy-dress party to celebrate. We invited all of our friends but no family, otherwise it would have been too much like a wedding.

"My boyfriend and I dressed as 'half-married' people, with our top halves in wedding outfits and the bottom half casual," says Ms Rorive.

And what of the future? "To me, it doesn't replace marriage. I'd still like to get married one day."

Source: BBC


Back to previous page