The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France has ruled that European countries currently prohibiting same-sex marriage are not violating the human rights of their citizens.
In a 4-3 ruling, the court ruled against a lawsuit filed by two Austrian men who were denied permission to marry in 2002 by Austrian officials.
The homosexual couple argued that their right to contract marriage, according to the European Convention of Human Rights, had been violated. However, the court ruled that the convention did not address the topic of same-sex marriage, an issue that it said falls under the authority of individual states.
In its decision, the court acknowledged “an emerging European consensus towards legal recognition of same-sex couples.” Nevertheless, it continued, “there is not yet a majority of States providing for legal recognition of same-sex couples.”
The court also said that if countries choose to allow other means of recognizing same-sex relationships, they are not obligated to ensure that such relationships are equal to marriage in every respect.
Austria passed a law allowing for recognition of same-sex couples with some, but not all, of the legal benefits of marriage. The law went into effect in January 1, 2010, eight years after the lawsuit filed by the two men.