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Austria: Same-Sex Couples Allowed to Get Married Starting January 2019

(Dec. 12, 2017) On December 4, 2017, the Austrian Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof Österreich, VfGH) struck down the provisions of the Civil Code and the Registered Partnership Act that restrict marriage to persons of different sexes and registered partnerships to persons of the same sex, respectively.  The Court held that the provisions violate the prohibition of […]

Germany: Regional Court of Frankfurt Establishes English-Speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters

(Dec. 6, 2017) On November 2, 2017, the German Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main (Landgericht Frankfurt am Main) reported that they will establish an English-speaking Chamber for Commercial Matters in January 2018. If a party requests that the dispute be litigated in English, the dispute will be automatically assigned to the new Chamber. If […]

Germany: Costs of Phone Calls in Prisons Must Reflect Market Prices

(Dec. 1, 2017) In a decision published on November 28, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) found that the constitutional requirement of social rehabilitation of sentenced persons is violated when a prisoner is charged excessive fees for phone services. An inmate’s request for a reduction of the costs for a prison phone call […]

European Union: 23 Member States Sign Common Notification to Deepen Defense Cooperation

(Nov. 28, 2017) Member States of the European Union (EU) have taken a formal step toward closer cooperation in defense and security.  On November 13, 2017, 23 of the 28 EU Member States signed a common notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on security and defense and submitted it to the High Representative of […]

Germany: Personal Status Act Must Allow Third Gender Option for Intersex People

(Nov. 20, 2017) In a decision published on November 8, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) held that the Personal Status Act is incompatible with the German Basic Law, the country’s constitution, to the extent that it only allows the registration of a female or male gender at birth or no gender entry […]

Austria/European Court of Human Rights: No Discrimination If Heterosexual Couple Is Denied Access to Registered Partnership

(Nov. 16, 2017) On October 26, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held in a five to two decision that there is no violation of article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when registered […]

Austria: Full-Face Veil Ban Enters Into Force

(Nov. 3, 2017) On October 1, 2017, a ban on full-face veils in public places and buildings entered into force in Austria.  According to section 1 of the Anti-Face Veil Act, the Act aims to “further integration by strengthening participation in society and by promoting peaceful coexistence in Austria.”  (Bundesgesetz über das Verbot der Verhüllung […]

European Union: Twenty Member States Create European Public Prosecutor’s Office

(Oct. 25, 2017) On October 12, 2017, the 20 European Union (EU) Member States that had agreed to establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) within the framework of enhanced cooperation adopted a regulation that establishes the EPPO. The EPPO will be in charge of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice the perpetrators of, and […]

Germany: New Law Allows Broadcasting and Recording of Court Proceedings

(Oct. 24, 2017) On June 22, 2017, and September 22, 2017, respectively, the German Bundestag (parliament) and the German Bundesrat (representing the states) passed an amendment to the German Courts Constitution Act that allows live audio broadcasting of court proceedings in a separate media room for trials of interest, broadcasting of the judgment and sentencing for […]

Switzerland: Referendum on Burqa and Niqab Ban Will Go to a Vote

(Oct. 24, 2017) On October 11, 2017, the Swiss Government announced that a proposed referendum on a ban of the full body and face veil (burqa) and the face veil (niqab) had achieved the required 100,000 number of signatures to be put to a vote. (Eidgenössische Volksinitiative, “Ja zum Verhüllungsverbot” [Swiss Federal Popular Initiative, “Yes […]