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Austria lawmaker
proposes legalized partnerships for gay couples

Austria lawmaker
proposes legalized partnerships for gay couples

Austria's justice minister on Friday proposed the establishment of "national partnerships" for gay and lesbian couples, a bold move in this predominantly Roman Catholic country that has yet to legally recognize same-sex unions. Justice Minister Karin Gastinger, a member of the center-right Alliance for the Future of Austria, told the Austria Press Agency in an interview that gay and lesbian couples would be able to sign an agreement in the presence of a notary. Although the partnerships would fall short of marriage, they would give gay couples the same rights and obligations straight couples have under Austrian law, Gastinger said. If a couple were to split, the partners could discuss possible alimony arrangements, she said. Same-sex couples also would be treated the same in applying current laws dealing with rental property and medical decisions under Gastinger's plan. It was unclear whether Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's conservative Austrian People's Party, which shares power with the Alliance for the Future of Austria in a coalition government, would support the proposal. The People's Party has expressed reluctance in the past to giving same-sex couples more rights, as have some officials in Gastinger's Alliance. (AP)

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