Equality for all

How do I approach women?

In Austria, it is normal for women to be on the street without a veil. That does not mean that they want to be touched or spoken to. On the contrary: To approach them without their consent is not only impolite; it can also be seen as harassment and thus a punishable offence. However, it is usual to extend your hand to men and women when greeting them. It is deemed to be disrespectful to offer your hand to a man but to refuse to do so to a woman.

Can women in Austria carry out any profession?

Yes. There is no difference here between women and men. Nobody may refuse to speak to the person responsible at an office, school, shop or pub just because that person is a woman or a man.

Does my wife have to do what I tell her?

No, men and women have equal rights in Austria. Men may not order women to do something in any life situation, not even in a marriage; men may not stipulate any regulations with regard to what women wear either. Both parents usually have parental authority.

May I touch women and children who are not family members or my closest friends?

Touching women and children in public who are strangers is inappropriate. It could be understood as sexual harassment. The exception is a greeting in which you offer your hand to somebody you know. If somebody offers you their hand and you do not extend yours to him or her, this is an impolite gesture.

Is homosexuality permitted in Austria?

Sexuality is a fundamental right of every person. Men and women decide their sexual orientation for themselves.

Sexual relationships between two men or two women are also allowed ...
... if both partners are over the age of 14,
... or if one partner is at least 13 years old and the other is

a maximum of three years older,
... and if it occurs by mutual consent.