STRASBOURG, France (BP)–In a significant victory for the traditional definition of marriage, a divided European Court of Human Rights ruled June 24 that countries are not obligated to legalize “gay marriage” under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The 4-3 decision applies to the 47 countries that have ratified the 1950 convention. The case involved a male Austrian couple who applied for a marriage license in their country in 2002 but were denied. They filed their case with the European court in 2004, and the court heard oral arguments in February.
“States are still free … to restrict access to marriage to different-sex couples,” the court’s majority ruled.
Of the nine countries worldwide that have legalized “gay marriage,” six are in Europe. Several other European countries, including the United Kingdom, grant homosexual couples the legalize benefits of marriage minus the name. The court argued “that there is an emerging European consensus towards legal recognition of same-sex couples.”
“Nevertheless, there is not yet a majority of States providing for legal recognition of same-sex couples,” the court ruled. “The area in question must therefore still be regarded as one of evolving rights with no established consensus….”
The case was complicated when, in January, a law went into effect in Austria granting same-sex couples marriage’s legal benefits. But the law did not grant the title of “marriage.” The court ruled that it was not “called upon to examine whether the lack of any means of legal recognition for same-sex couples” would have violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
ICELAND LEGALIZES ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — Iceland soon will become the ninth country worldwide to legalize “gay marriage” after its Parliament passed a bill by a vote of 49-0 that will change the definition, IceNews.is reported. The other countries that have legalized “gay marriage” are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Portugal.
NEW AUSSIE PM OPPOSES ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ — Australia has a new prime minister, but she, like her predecessor, opposes “gay marriage.” Prime Minister Julia Gillard, a member of the left-leaning Labor Party, said in a TV interview last year that it was her personal position — and the position of the Labor government — that marriage was between one man and one woman.
“This is an issue that we’ve got to deal in contemporary Australian society with all of our history — hundreds of years of history in Australia and in western culture beyond what marriage means,” she said.
The previous prime minister, Kevin Rudd, also of the Labor Party, stepped down June 24, less than three years after his party won Parliament in 2007. He was on the verge of being voted out by his own party.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.