The ECtHR’s decision in the case of Ratzenböck and Seydl v. Austria has become final. With this decision, the Court had decided that legislation that reserves access to so-called civil partnerships” to homosexual couples and access to marriage to heterosexual couples did not constitute discrimination. It therefore turned down the application of a different-sex couple from Austria who had wanted to conclude a “civil partnership”.
It appears that what attracted the couple to the idea of a “civil partnership” was the lower level of mutual commitment (no sexual fidelity, easier access to divorce) which is “tailor-made” for the life-style of many sodomites.
The ECtHR’s decision may seem redundant, given that just a few weeks after it was published the Austrian Constitutional Court issued a controversial decision through which it inter alia decreed that “civil partnerships” should from 2019 onwards be made available also to different-sex couples, thus providing to the ECtHR plaintiffs, Mr. Ratzenböck and Mrs. Seydl, precisely the kind of “light regime” marriage they had been looking for. In actual fact however, the ECtHR decision is very significant because of its implications for marriage: if “civil partnerships” can be reserved to homosexual couples, then logically marriage can be reserved to man-woman-couples, as has always and everywhere been the case until 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to reject what up to then had been a truly universal moral consensus.
Over the last years the ECtHR has thus developed a novel doctrine (not based on the Convention it is supposed to safeguard), that can be summarized as follows:
- Same-sex couples (aka Sodomites) have a right to obtain some form of legal acknowledgement and recognition for their sodomite relationships through the legal order;
- however, this does not necessarily imply that the institution of marriage must be opened to them, or that their sodomite relationships must be endowed with the same legal effect as marriage;
- instead, the yardstick is that if and when a legal order confers rights and benefits to what decent-minded people would describe as adulterous relationships (i.e., non-married different-sex couples), it would be “discriminatory” not to give the same rights and benefits also to sodomite couples;
- it remains thus perfectly admissible under the Convention to recognize and protect the special status of marriage, which is the union of a man and a woman open for procreation, and which provides a unique contribution to the public good.
What is utterly problematic in this case law is that it implies that the act of sodomy is not in itself an abomination, but something that entitles those involved to “respect” and to “rights”. On the positive side, it rejects claims that somewhere in the European Human Rights Convention there is a right to same-sex “marriage” waiting to be discovered.
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