Marriage equality in Austria will not be possible until at least 2018.
In the middle of January, Austria’s most powerful politician made LGBT equality a part of his re-election program.
But now it is becoming clear same-sex marriage is definitely not an option for nearly two years.
Late on Monday (30 January), chancelor Christian Kern and his vice chancelor Reinhold Mitterlehner announced they had decided on a new coalition program.
Kern represents the Social Democratic Party of Austria; he is the first chancelor to have taken part in Vienna Pride.
His VC, Mitterlehner, represents the Christian democratic and conservative Austrian People’s Party.
Their new program is based on Kern’s so-called ‘Plan A’, his re-election program which should ‘reform’ Austria.
In Kern’s original plan, he said he wanted to establish same-sex marriage.
The chancellor also said to protect LGBT Austrians in all aspects of life.
But in the new program, which is very close to Kern’s Plan A proposal, something crucial is missing: Kern’s stance on LGBT people.
There is not a single mention of sexual minorities, any combination of LGBT or synonymous acronyms or marriage equality – neither under same-sex marriage or the often used ‘homo marriage’.
The ÖVP’s negotiators said they had come up with a document ‘clearly carrying the ÖVP’s handwriting’.
The ÖVP has long objected to granting same-sex couples marriage equality.
Any bill opening marriage to same-sex couples is now unlikely to be debated before the next election.
Marriage is one of the few areas where same-sex couples still face discrimination in Austria.
Since 2010, they can enter registered partnership.
In 2016, following a 2015 ruling by the Constitutional Court, gay couples also have full joint adoption rights.
In terms of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Kern’s original Plan A would have brought much-needed updates.
Currently, there are workplace protections, but in private discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited.
Landlords, for example, could refuse a gay couple rental contracts.