Depuis 2013, chacun des partenaires d’un couple homosexuel en Autriche pouvait déjà adopter les enfants de l’autre. Les couples lesbiens autrichiens ont par ailleurs accès aux dons de sperme (procréation médicale assistée, PMA) depuis 2014. En revanche, le mariage n’est pas ouvert aux couples homosexuels, qui peuvent toutefois, depuis 2010, contracter une forme de partenariat civil.

Dans sa décision rendue mercredi, la Cour constitutionnelle rejette comme «inadaptés» les arguments de «la défense du mariage et de la famille traditionnelle» pour limiter les droits des homosexuels à l’adoption.

Le Comité Lambda, une organisation de promotion des droits des homosexuels en Autriche, a salué la décision. Son président, Helmut Graupner, souhaite désormais pousser les feux pour obtenir une loi autorisant le mariage homosexuel. Selon le Comité Lambda, l’Autriche devient mercredi le seul pays européen accordant aux homosexuels l’égalité des droits devant l’adoption, tout en leur interdisant le mariage.

Holzinger said that the court found that there was “no justification for difference in treatment because of sexual orientation”.

Since 2013 gay couples in Austria have been entitled to step-child adoption - meaning that one partner can adopt the biological child of the other.

The law was changed after a lesbian couple who wanted to jointly raise one partner's child won their case at the European Court for Human Rights, which ruled that Austria's adoption laws discriminated against gay people.

Helmut Graupner, from the Lambda legal committee which offers free legal counselling in all areas of the law related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life, said he was “over the moon” about the lifting of the ban.

The lawyers for the women on whose case the decision was based called the decision “a complete success”, and called on Austria’s government to recognise same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples may form a “registered partnership” in Austria, but do not have access to the same government marital benefits as heterosexual couples do.

Some EU countries such as Britain, the Netherlands and France allow same-sex marriage with full adoption rights. But in others such as Portugal, Germany and Hungary varying restrictions remain.

AFP