RKL-President Graupner Received Vienna State Golden Medal of Merits
14 November 2016
Government decorations for the first time in Austrian history awarded to LGBTI-activists
In the year 2016, celebrating 25 years of Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), the Vienna state government, for the first time in Austrian history, has awarded governmental decorations for merits against discrimination and for equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
During a ceremonial act in the Vienna Town Hall´s Grand Hall of Coats of Arms government minister Sandra Frauenberger - representing the mayor - handed over the Golden Medal of Merits to Dr. Helmut Graupner, president of Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL) and co-president of the Austrian Society for Sexologies (ÖGS), and the Silver Medal of Merits to Mag. Andreas Brunner, head of QWien research-center and co-founder of the rainbow-parade.
In her moving laudation Sandra Frauenberger stressed the two dignitaries`merits for the state of Vienna, reminded of the successes jointly achieved and assured that the state of Vienna will continue forcefully its exemplary commitment until discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intereex persons will be ended.
Dr. Helmut Graupner is a co-founder of Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria´s LGBTI civil rights organisation, and has been serving as RKL´s president since its foundation in 1991. By litigation in Austrian and European courts he has overthrown the discriminatory age of consent for gay-male-relations, the bans on step-parent and joint adoption for same-gender couples as well as the ban on medically assisted procreation for same-gender couples, and the divorce requirement and the genital-surgery requirement for change of legal gender. By litigation and political lobbying he has achieved to bring down the differences between civil marriage and registered partnership from around 100 in the government bill (2009) to current 32 (and 17 according to legislation in the pipeline), and to completely equalize the legal status of opposite-gender and same-gender parenthood. And for Germany he has brought about equality in pension rights for civil marriage and registered partnership by litigation in the Court of Justice of the European Union (Maruko 2008; Römer 2011). Since 2015 he has been leading the Austrian campaign for marriage-equality: Ehe Gleich!, which, having raised over 50.000 signatures, has turned out as one of the most successful citizens initiatives in Austrian history.
In his acceptance speech he drew a bow from the beginnings in the dark ages of criminalization, over the numerous successes achieved, to the upcoming challenges of antidiscrimination-protection, of rehabilitation of past criminalisation´s victims, and of marriage equality. He emphasized that the work will not be done with the achievement of legal equality, as rights have to be implemented into everyday-life and, above all, be defended against attempted backlash.
After his acceptance speech, acknowledged by the audience with standing ovations, parts of RKL´s team presented Graupner with a huge bouquet of flowers in the colours of a rainbow.
Fotos: Martin Votava/PID; Michael Hierner