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The talks took all night, but on 17 November, the Austrian government finally decided to allow same-sex civil unions from 1 January 2010. “Equality – save at town hall,” headlines Der Standard, pointing up the main remaining bone of contention: gay couples can’t say “I do” in town hall, but are cordially invited to seek out the local registrar in their district – a proviso the conservative Christian Democrats insisted on to distinguish civil union from marriage proper. That aside, observes the paper, “The partners’ rights and obligations (especially tax-wise) are by and large identical to married couples’.” Although adopting kids and in vitro fertilisation remain off limits to homosexuals, and splitting-up will be less of a legal hassle for gay couples than for their straight counterparts, the Austrian justice minister maintains that this is not wedlock “lite”.