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Case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria
European Court of Human Rights
App. No. 30141/04 (2010), reprinted in 49 I.L.M. 1306 (2010)
In 2002, Schalk and Kopf (plaintiffs) sought a marriage license, but Austrian authorities denied the license on the ground that marriage was limited to parties of the opposite sex. In 2010, Austria (defendant) enacted a Registered Partnership Act, providing same-sex couples with formal recognition of their relationships. Although similar to Austrian marriage laws, the Registered Partnership Act contained important differences. Unlike married couples, registered partners could not adopt a child, could not adopt the other partner’s child, and could not use artificial insemination. Schalk and Kopf filed a complaint, arguing the refusal of the Austrian government to allow them to contract to marry violated Article 8, Article 12, and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Austria argued the Registered Partnership Act allows same-sex couples to obtain a status similar to marriage, although reserving marriage for different-sex couples.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning
Dissent (Rozakis, Spielmann, and Jebens, JJ.)
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