By VERONIKA OLEKSYN
The Associated Press
(AP) — VIENNA - Austria's parliament passed legislation Thursday allowing homosexual couples to enter into civil unions, a move hailed by proponents as a historic win for gay rights in the country.
The bill, slated to become law Jan. 1., will give same-sex couples a series of rights enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, including access to a pension if one partner dies and alimony in the event of a split. It bans the adoption of children or artificial insemination. Photos
"We are living in the 21st century and I'm very glad this step is being taken today," Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner said during parliamentary debate leading up to the vote.
Christian Hoegl, co-president of the Homosexual Initiative Vienna, Austria's oldest group of gays and lesbians, agreed.