by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
The European Court of Human Rights held its first-ever hearing in a same-sex marriage case Feb. 25.
The hearing considered the admissibility and merits of a case from Austria, Schalk and Kopf v. Austria. A decision on those points will be forthcoming.
The court granted permission to Prof. Robert Wintemute to make oral submissions on behalf of four intervening parties: the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Center; the International Commission of Jurists; and the Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme.
Horst Michael Schalk and Johann Franz Kopf are a gay couple in Vienna. They were denied a marriage license in 2002 by the Vienna Municipal Office, which said people of the same sex can’t marry.
The couple appealed to Vienna’s regional governor and then the Constitutional Court, losing both times.
Their European case argues that in refusing them a marriage license, Austria violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantee the rights to marry, protect one’s property and not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
The sometimes notoriously slow ECHR has been sitting on the case for more than five years.