The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused to hear an appeal from a pair of homosexual activists who were attempting to force Austria to accept same-sex “marriage.”
In June, the ECHR ruled in the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria that independent states are not obliged to implement homosexual “marriage” or civil unions under the European Convention on Human Rights.
On November 22, the five-judge panel of the ECHR’s Grand Chamber rejected the request of the applicants to hear an appeal of the court’s Chamber decision, thereby making the Chamber decision final.
The ECHR had ruled in June, “The question whether or not to allow same-sex marriage is left to regulation by the national law of the contracting state.” It also pointed out that Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights reserves the right to contract marriage to persons of different sex.
The case involves a request by two Austrian men, Horst Michael Schalk and Johan Franz Kopf, that the Vienna Municipal Office give them the papers for a marriage. That office refused, saying that same-sex marriage is not legal in Austria. The two men appealed to the Vienna Regional Governor, who also refused.
They took their case to the ECHR, complaining that they were not allowed to contract marriage and did not have any other possibility to have their relationship recognised by law before the entry into force of the Registered Partnership Act in Austria in January 2010.
In its Chamber judgment of June 24, 2010, the Court found that Article 12 of the Convention on Human Rights, on the right to marry, “did not impose an obligation on the Austrian Government to grant a same-sex couple access to marriage.”
The Court also found that there had been no violation of Convention Article 14, which prohibits discrimination, or Article 8, which has to do with the right to respect for private and family life.
The Court noted that the right in Article 8 is granted to “men and women” and includes the right to found a family. The court observed that all other Convention rights are granted to “everyone,” which mean that the choice of wording must have been deliberate.
Moreover, the Court said, the historical context of the 1950s, when the Convention was drafted, must also be considered, as in the 1950s “marriage was clearly understood in the traditional sense of being a union between partners of different sex.”