European human rights court rejects gay marriage bid

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A mock gay marriage in the UK (file photo December 2005)
Image caption,
There is no Europe-wide consensus on gay marriage, the court said

European nations are not legally obliged to allow same sex marriages, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The court said that individual countries were best placed to decide on their own laws on this issue.

Two Austrian men brought a case to the court saying their fundamental rights were breached because Austria does not recognise same sex marriage.

But the court said there was no Europe-wide consensus on the issue.


The judges said there was "an emerging European consensus" that same sex partnerships should have legal recognition, but said individual states could decide how far they went in recognising the legal status of partnerships.

There are "deep rooted social and cultural connotations which may differ largely from one society to another" the court said.

Six EU states have legalised gay marriage and 10 more have same-sex partnerships, which carry the same legal status as marriage.

But many more countries in the 27-member union do not recognise same sex marriage and it is barred by the constitutions of some countries.

Horst Shalk and Johann Kopf sought a marriage permit in Vienna in 2002, but were turned down because Austrian law only recognises marriage between a man and a woman.

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