Legge 09 gennaio 1998, n.19
Austria: Federal Law concerning the Legal Status of Religious Belief Communities
Federal Law of Austria concerning the Legal Status of Religious Belief Communities
(BGBl. I Nr. 19/1998)
§1. Definition of a Religious Belief Community
Religious Belief Communities in the sense of the Federal law are associations of adherents of a religion which is not legally recognized.
(1) Religious Belief Communities aquire this legal personality, according to this Federal law, by application to the Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs after expiry of a period of six months from the date of filing the application provided that a response refusing this legal personality (according to paragraph 5) has not been delivered.
(2) The Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs must announce the receipt of applications according to paragraph 1 in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung.
(3) A decree announcing the acquisition of this legal status must be issued and must include the name of the religious belief community, those legally responsible for the community.
(4) With the decree according to paragraph (3) above the Federal Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs must enact the dissolution of those associations having the purpose of spreading the religious doctrine of the concerned religious belief community.
(5) When a religious belief community is newly formed by cancellation of an association, which served and supported the concerned religious beliefs, then it must be considered, for purposes of taxation, as a simple change of legal form and further continuation of the same legal personality.
(6) Religious belief communities with a legal personality according to this Federal law are entitled to call themselves “state registered religious belief community.”
§3. Application of a religious belief community for acquisition of the legal personality
(1) The application of the religious belief community for acquisition of legal personality must be done by the representatives of the religious belief community. The authorisation of representation must be documented. Furthermore an official address must be stated.
(2) Statutes and complementing documents must be included with the application explaining the content and practice of the religious belief.
(3) Together with the application it must be proven that the religious community has at least 300 members whose residence is in Austria and who do not belong to a religious belief community with a legal personality according to this Federal law or to a legally recognized church or religious community.
(4) Associations existing in the Federal area whose purpose is the dissemination of the religious doctrine of the religious belief community are parties in this application procedure; they are to be listed and included in the application.
(1) The statutes must include:
1. The name of the religious belief community has to be such that it can be associated with the doctrine of the religious belief community and in such a way that it excludes confusion with existing religious belief communities with legal personality and legally recognized churches and religious communities or their institutions.
2. The description of the religious doctrine must be different from the doctrines of existing religious belief communities according to this Federal law and from the doctrines of legally recognized churches and religious communities.
3. The description of the purposes and goals resulting from the religious doctrine of the religious community and rights and duties of the members of the religious belief community.
4. Regulations concerning how to become a member and cease to be a member, whereby the cessation must be guaranteed in any case according to §8.
5. The way to appoint those responsible for the religious belief community, their functions and sphere of influence, location and responsibility within Austria.
6. External representation of the religious belief community.
7. The means to raise funds to fulfil economic requirements.
8. Regulations covering the possibility of cancellation of the legal personality whereby it must be specifically guaranteed that claims against the religious belief community will be executed according to the laws and that the assets of the religious belief community are not used for purposes contrary to its goals.
(2) The statutes can also provide for the possibility that local sub-entities which are part of the religious belief community can acquire their own legal status. In this case the statutes concerning these entities must determine:
1. the local zone of responsibility
2. those responsible for the sub-entity
3. regulations concerning the legal transfer in the event of cancellation of the legal body
§5. Rejection of the Acquistion of Legal Status
(1) The Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs must refuse acquisition of legal status if
1. it is necessary when the doctrine or its application are contrary to the interests of public security in a democratic society, or contrary to public order, health and morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others; this would be the case specifically when there is incitement to illegal conduct which is punishable by law, in the case of hindrance of the mental development of juveniles, in the case of violation of mental integrity and the application of psycho-therapeutic methods, specifically for the purpose of conveying the belief.
2. the statutes do not fulfill §4.
(2) The refusal of the legal status has to be announced in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung.
§6. Acquisition of Legal Status for Local Sub-Entities of a Religious Belief Community
The acquisition of the legal status for the local sub-entity of a religious belief community requires an application by the religious belief community to the Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs and is effective on the date of receipt. The Federal Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs must acknowledge receipt of the application.
§7. Notification Duties of the Religious Belief Community with Legal Status
Religious belief communities and sub-entities with legal status must report the relevant names and addresses of those legally responsible as well as any change of statutes immediately to the Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. Refusal must be notified in writing in the case when the Ministry discovers that the appointment of any responsible is in violation of the statutes or if the change of statutes would give reason for rejection according to §5.
§8. Cessation of Membership of a Religious Belief Community
(1) Membership of a religious belief community ceases in any case by a declaration of resignation at the District Administrative Office which must then announce the resignation to the concerned religious belief community.
(2) No fees may be claimed because of this resignation.
§9. Cessation of Legal Status
(1) The legal status ceases by
1. Self-dissolution which must be announced in writing to the Federal Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs.
2. Cancellation of the legal status.
(2) The Federal Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs must cancel the legal status of a religious belief community or its sub-entity when
1. it does not fulfill or no longer fulfills the essential requirements needed for the acquisition of the legal status
2. does not have anyone legally entitled to act for the entity for at least one year.
3. the conditions for cancellation of the legal personality as given according to §5 exist and despite requests for this to be corrected they continue to exist or
4. conduct continues to be contrary to the statutes despite requests for this to cease.
(3) The cancellation of the legal status must be announced in the official gazette of the Wiener Zeitung.
§10. Register Concerning Religious Belief Community with Legal Status
(1) The Federal Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs must keep a register of religious belief communities with legal status. This must contain :
1. the name of the religious belief community
2. the legal status’ of its sub-entities
3. the file number and date of the decree according to §2.
4. those legally responsible to represent or sign for the community
5. the reason, on cancellation of legal status
(2) The register is public.
(3) Upon request, anyone must be given information concerning the address of the religious belief community and those legally responsible members. Furthermore a confirmation must be issued upon request of the religious belief community or otherwise by persons or institutions which have a justified interest, and this confirmation must certify, according to the given statutes as well as according to the notifications according to §7, those who are legally responsible to represent the community.
§11. Additional Pre-requisites for Recognition of Religious Communities
(1) Additional prerequisites to those prerequisites which are described in the law concerning the legal recognition of religious communities, RGBl. Nr.68/1874.
1. Existence as a religious community for at least 20 years of which at least 10 years as a religious belief community with legal status in the sense of this Federal law.
2. Number of followers in the amount of at least 2 per thousand of the population of Austria according to the latest census.
3. Income and assets must be used for religious purposes (which also includes charitable and benevolent purposes justified by the religious purpose).
4. Positive basic attitude towards society and state.
5. No illegal disturbance of relationships to the existing legally recognized churches and religious communities as well as other religious communities.
(2) This Federal law is applicable for ongoing administrative procedures which are based on the law concerning the legal recognition of religious communities. Applications for recognition as a religious community are to be considered as applications according to §3 whereby the date of enforcement of this Federal law is considered to be the date of filing.
§12. Final Regulations
This Federal law will come into force on the day following official notification.
The Federal Minister of Finance is responsible for the execution of §2. whilst otherwise it being the responsibility of the Federal Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs.