.- The Austrian Bishops' Conference responded to new legislation which provides for the country's recognition of same-sex partnerships, saying that the law was “neither appropriate nor necessary, because the existing provisions for civil rights already grant appropriate protections.”
According to the AFP, the new Austrian law, which will take effect January 1, 2010, provides recognition of same-sex unions in the official register, though the unions cannot have a ceremony in the registry office. Partners are allowed to take each others names, but the couples will still be denied access to artificial insemination and adoption rights.
The new law provides rights regarding tax, inheritance, pension and alimony to the same-sex partnerships, though there are 37 other rights which are only afforded to married couples.
Chairman of the Austrian Bishop's Conference, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, noted in a press release that the positive aspect of the law is that it does not create parity between these “registered partnerships” and true marriages. However, he added that this new law has “unforeseeable consequences for all of society.”
Though the law is extremely limited in comparison to similar ones in other European countries, the Austrian bishops expressed concern that “the present draft provides the basis for a development that will ultimately lead to the complete equality of 'registered partnerships' with traditional marriages.”