The UK Government tried to defend Austria’s decision not to give legal recognition to homosexual partnerships, it has emerged.
The intervention came when two Austrian men claimed their human rights were violated when they were not allowed to ‘marry’.
The case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It could have had implications for the definition of marriage for various states, including the UK.
The UK Government told the ECHR that the human right to marry refers to “the traditional marriage between persons of the opposite biological sex”.
It added: “There is not an evolving convergence to the effect that persons in a same-sex relationship should be allowed to contract a marriage.”
In a submission to the court, it argued that there was no “obligation” for any country to introduce legal recognition for same-sex relationships.
The UK’s civil partnership law, the Government argued, was “a natural progression towards its goal of developing a more inclusive society”.
But it said that for some countries, such an obligation may be out of keeping with the social, cultural and religious norms and traditions.
The Government has now abandoned its challenge to the Austrians’ claim. However, Lord Bach told the House of Lords last month that while civil partnerships are allowed in the UK, the law “did not call those partnerships marriage, and that remains government policy”.
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute commented: “It’s interesting that the Government has some understanding of how extreme the UK has become in the area of gay rights.
“It’s just a shame they didn’t show the same respect for cultural and religious views here in the UK as they did for views in Austria and elsewhere.”