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European Court Offers Glimmer Of Hope On Gay Marriage

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In a blow to , the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the .

Austrians Horst Schalk and Johann Kopf argued that the failure to recognise their marriage violated their human rights under article 12 (right to marry), article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), and article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

While the Court acknowledged that the right to marry was not limited to "marriage between two persons of the opposite sex", it also held that the question whether or not to allow same-sex marriage should be left to the national laws of the Convention states. Since the national law of Austria does not currently recognise marriage between gay couples, Schalk and Kopf's Convention rights were not impacted.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, Clive Baldwin of writes in the  that this represents a "hopeful message on same-sex marriage".

How so?

Well, he states that the Court's "two significant findings" that the right to family life and the right to marry are applicable to same-sex relationships indicate that one day it will recognise the right to same-sex marriage as a right under the Convention. But this will only happen, he adds, once a "European consensus" exists -i.e., when a majority of the 47 Convention countries have done so. Currently only 7 of the 47 countries recognise gay marriage (Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden).

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