Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien

1. Lesben- und Schwulenverband Österreichs

Human Rights Rhetoric Versus Human Rights Violations

https://www.hosiwien.at/img/image/2015/schuessel-haider-350×254.jpg” alt=”Schüssel und Haider” width=”350″ height=”254″ class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-37190″ />Thursday, 3 February 2000, the party leaders of the ÖVP and FPÖ, Wolfgang Schüssel and Jörg Haider, presented their government programme. There was a lot of human rights rhetoric but obviously, these two parties have a very narrow view on human rights. HOSI Wien, appalled by this rhetoric, issued a press release reminding the public that ÖVP and FPÖ have been violating the human rights of homosexuals for many years now by voting against the repeal of Article 209 of the Austrian Penal Code and blocking any progress in other legal matter such as partnership legislation. (Article 209 fixes the age of consent for male gay sex at 18 while it is 14 for heterosexual and lesbian relations. Every year, there are on an average 50 investigations and approximately 20 convictions under Article 209.)

A higher age of consent provision for homosexual than for heterosexual relations is a breach of the European Human Rights Convention as was stated by the European Human Rights Commission in the case Euan Sutherland against the United Kingdom. In four resolutions in 1997 and 1998, the European Parliament has urged Austria to repeal Article 209 and, in September 1998, even to “immediately provide amnesty for, and the release from prison of, all persons jailed under this law”. In November 1998, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, concluding the consideration of Austria’s periodical report as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under the Covenant’s Article 40, requested Austria “that the law be revised to remove such discriminatory provisions”.

The ÖVP/FPÖ majority in the Austrian Parliament has ignored both the opinion of the European Human Rights Commission, the four European Parliament resolutions as well as the request of the UN Human Rights Committee. Even at a time (the last vote in the Parliament on Article 209 was in July 1998) when both parties were fully aware of the EHR Commission’s opinion and two EP resolutions adopted before that date.

In its press release (see the original text in German), HOSI Wien presented this obvious gap between the statements of Schüssel and Haider and reality and gave the facts mentioned above. HOSI Wien also announced that we would send letters to the foreign ministers and head of governments of the other 14 EU Member States to denounce these human rights violations against homosexuals in Austria and demand that a procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union be launched against Austria. Article 7 provides for a third of the Member States to propose to the Council to determine whether a “serious and persistent breach” of human rights principles exists in a Member State. The preservation and continuous application of Article 209 PC certainly constitutes such a “serious and persistent breach” of human rights.