Cohabitation

Vienna is an international city that is characterised by different lifestyles, ideologies and beliefs. Young and old people, women and men, people of different sexual orientation, people who have been born here and people who have moved here, people with and without disabilities live together in Vienna.

In the city of Vienna, rules of coexistence and for good, fair and respectful relationships with one another have been drawn up. These rules are summarised in the so-called "Vienna Charter". Coexistence in diversity is based on the Austrian legal system. Essential basic elements from international legal standards and the Austrian federal constitution are summarised in the basic document of the "Vienna Charter". These are: democracy and constitutional state, human and basic rights, particularly the rights of women and children. These elements were the basis for the development of the "Vienna Charter". They cannot and may not be questioned by anybody.

 

Austria is a democracy and a constitutional state – what does that mean?

Austria is a democratic republic in which the law emanates from the people. Democracy means that the people or the elected representatives of the people determine what policy is made and what laws apply. Everybody must abide by these laws because all citizens are equal before the law. People in the police, courts and all authorities may not enforce their ideas in an arbitrary manner but only act on the basis of laws.

In a democratic constitutional state, the citizens have waived exercising power themselves and transferred the enforcement of their rights to the authorities and/or the courts. This monopoly of power of the state protects the freedom and the rights of all: individuals or groups may not enforce their personal interests towards others using force. In a democracy, the law prevails, and not the law of the stronger.

In a democracy, the majority fundamentally decide; however, this excludes basic rights and the rights of minorities that may not be questioned even by a majority. A democratic state protects the right of all citizens. The coexistence of self-determined, free people forms the foundation of a democratic system.

As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations; "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Without this basic conviction of the dignity and worth of every human, irrespective of age, gender, skin colour, language, religion, political or other persuasion, origin or assets, democracy is inconceivable.

Human and basic rights protect the individual person. However, rights, obligations and responsibility for every and each individual result from them.

A democratic country can and must expect the recognition of and respect for these values, irrespective of age, gender, origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or political belief. Human rights are formulated in various international legal documents and the Austrian federal constitution as basic rights and are a fundamental component of the Austrian legal system.

What human and basic rights apply in Austria?

Right to life, physical and mental integrity and safety

Every person has the right to be able to live in safety and not to be physically or mentally mistreated. Nobody has the right to beat or injure another person or to cause him or her physical or mental anguish, or to humiliate or even kill that person. In many paragraphs, the Criminal Code protects this unconditional right of every person.

Furthermore, every person also has the right for his or her property and his or her possessions being protected from access by third parties (theft, damage). This also applies for communal public property (e.g. park, underground, etc.).

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 2, 3, 17

Right to privacy and personal rights of freedom

Each person also has the right to respect of his or her private and family life and of his/her communication.

Every person has the right to determine his or her personal lifestyle and his/her own life themselves and under their own responsibility: the right to take up and select a profession, to decide themselves about their way of life (marriage, civil partnership, single) and to decide their partner themselves and to determine themselves their place of residence or clothing and to decide about everything that belongs to their personal way of living, without force, themselves and under their own responsibility.

Nobody therefore has the right to exercise psychological or physical coercion against others. The laws of the state protect these freedom rights and punish coercion, duress, blackmail or harassment.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 7, 9, 15

Right to freedom of expression of opinion and freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Every person has the right to freely express his or her opinion and to receive and pass on ideas and information. Certain restrictions in this freedom of opinion are recorded solely to protect individuals, for instance to protect against libel or incitement.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion includes both the freedom to commit to a religion as well as the freedom to fundamentally reject religion(s). It also means the freedom to change religion or ideology and the freedom to commit to religion or ideology individually or jointly with others publicly or privately through religious service, tuition, conventions or customs.

Every person has the right to assemble and join together freely and peacefully with other persons (freedom of assembly and association), for instance to form political parties, trade unions, associations.

Democratic coexistence requires self-determined people who have different views, opinions, experiences and pursue different interests. Discussions and disputes are therefore not only normal in democratic societies but also necessary and important. Different ideas and interests which are also disputed in places are a fundamental element of a living democracy. Coexistence in a democracy therefore means permitting different standpoints and life plans and discussing, exchanging ideas and information, cooperating with one another and resolving conflicts without violence.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 10, 11, 12

Equal treatment, protection against discrimination and equal opportunities

Each person has the right to equal treatment and the right to protection from discrimination irrespective of their gender, religion, ideology, disability, age, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, membership of a minority, skin colour or social class.

The requirement of equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination firstly obligates the state (i.e. authorities or courts) but secondly also private individuals: It is, for instance, prohibited to refuse somebody a job, an apartment or access to a shop due to skin colour or a disability.

However, equal treatment and the ban on discrimination is often not enough. A democratic state also strives for equal opportunities. Equal opportunities also means that all people have the opportunity to participate with equal rights in all areas of life. One of the central tasks of the state comprises evening out existing irregularities and thus ensuring a fair distribution of opportunities. This is done e.g. through the tax system or through measures such as health insurance and unemployment insurance or striving to achieve education systems that are as open as possible.

In the case of people with disabilities, equal opportunities also means ensuring barrier-free access to buildings or barrier-free information services (e.g. Internet).

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 21

Commercial, social and cultural rights

A person has the right to education, free-of-charge access to mandatory schools and access to vocational initial and further training. In addition, the right to healthy, safe and dignified work conditions.

The social rights include the right to social security and social support, the right to housing and the right to access to preventative health care and to medical care in order to ensure a dignified life.

A dignified life also includes the possibility to participate in the cultural life and the respect for the diversity of the cultures, religions and languages.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 14, 27-33, 34, 35, 22

What women's and children's rights apply in Austria?

Women's rights

Even if the tradition of human rights emphasises the same dignity of all people, this principle in practice initially meant above all the equal treatment of men among one another. Many steps to equal rights and equal treatment of women were only gradually won over the last hundred years (e.g. the right to vote) and to date the goal of equal opportunities has not been fully reached.

In Vienna, the full equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men are of great importance.
 

  • Women have the right to live safely and without physical or psychological violence.
  • Women have the right to themselves exercise control over their life and their body – rape is also a punishable offence in marriage.
  • Women have the right to a good education and training, to equal rights and the same opportunities at work.
     

Children's rights

For a long time, children were seen as "not yet adults" and less as people who also have rights. Only in 1989 was the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations and this is also applicable in Austria.
 

  • Children are entitled to protection against violence and exploitation.
  • Any form of violence towards children and young people, whether in the family or at kindergarten/school, has been prohibited since 1989. Child labour is also prohibited.
  • Children are entitled to healthy nutrition, an appropriate residential and living area, education and support, games and leisure activities. Children and young people are entitled to an appropriate standard of living. Children and young people have the right to education, whereby the law also stipulates an obligation for education: There is an obligation to attend the kindergarten in the last year before compulsory education and there is compulsory education for children aged between 6 and 15.
  • Children have the right to participate in all matters that affect them. This principle demands the respect of the opinion of children and young people. Children and young people are independent personalities who can also represent their interests themselves. They have the right to form their own opinion and to express it freely, and they have the right that their opinion has to be taken into appropriate consideration (also in court or before authorities).

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Art. 24

How does coexistence in the city work?

In addition to the German language, which is a fundamental key for a good coexistence of diverse cultures, respect, tolerance, acceptance and appreciation are important: Towards other people, their opinions, their ideologies and their belief.

So that coexistence works in the public space, discretion and the preservation of privacy are appreciated. This also applies for cleanliness on the roads or in the parks. A good coexistence in the public space also means that we help our fellow people who are in danger. Every person of full legal age is obligated to help. Failure to provide assistance is punishable in Austria.

Coexistence in the residential building

Building owners can hang the house regulations at the entrance to the building. The house regulations describe what is taboo in the building and what is permitted. Even if there are no house regulations, a rest period from 10 pm until 6 am always applies. During this period, consideration is shown to the neighbours. Sundays and public holidays are viewed as special rest days. Lawn mowing, loud television and loud music are taboo on these days. If you are inviting guests to a large party in your apartment, please inform your neighbours beforehand. You thus prevent them from feeling disturbed by a possible loud volume of noise. Satellite systems may only be installed after consultation with your landlord.

Waste disposal

There are containers for residual waste and paper in the waste disposal area of the residential buildings. All kinds of bottles and cans are disposed of in containers in the area around your residential building. Bulky waste such as old furniture or old electrical appliances can be handed in free of charge at the waste disposal sites of MA 48.

Punctuality

Punctual arrival for official meetings makes the coexistence of everybody easier and is also expected. Delays result in cancellations of appointments. Delays are also deemed to be impolite in the private sector. In Austria, it is usual to keep to appointments, for instance official appointments, doctor's appointments, appointments in kindergartens and schools (parents' evenings, parent-teacher meetings, etc.), chimney sweep appointments in the building or readings of gas and electricity meters. If the meeting cannot be kept, it is cancelled in a timely manner either in writing or by telephone.

Hospital visits

When you visit relatives or friends in a hospital, the visiting times and the number of visitors are to be complied with. Here too, the focus is on consideration towards other patients.

How does the transport system in Vienna work?

Public transport

Irrespective of whether it is the underground, tram or bus: In Vienna, passengers alight first and then new passengers board. All passengers are considerate towards other passengers (e.g. no loud telephone calls or listening to music). Older persons, people with physical disabilities, pregnant women and mothers with young children have priority for seats. The rule applies on the escalators of the underground stations: stand on the right, walk on the left.

You must not talk to bus and tram drivers when they are driving. Exceptions apply for people with prams or walking frames and people who are in a wheelchair. The drivers will be pleased to assist you in boarding.

The public transport system of Vienna offers a large number of different tickets. Find out which type of ticket is most suitable for you. There are different ticket prices for adults and children up to the age of 15. Children under the age of six do not need a ticket. In all Vienna school holidays, on Sundays and public holidays and on 2 and 15 November, children up to the age of 15 travel free of charge. Holders of an annual pass can take two children up to the age of 15 free of charge on Saturdays from 12 noon onwards. Individual tickets must be stamped at ticket validators before commencing your journey in order for them to be valid.

Mobile by car

In a car, each person has their own seat and all passengers have to wear their seatbelts during the journey. Children smaller than a height of 150 cm must wear a seatbelt in a child's seat or on a booster seat.

When are the shops open in Vienna?

The majority of supermarkets are open from Monday to Saturday from around 7.30 am until approx. 7.30 pm. For example, clothing stores do not open until around 9 am. There are shortened opening hours on Saturdays. On Sundays, most stores are closed all day.

How can I organise my leisure time?

Vienna offers a diverse range of sports and cultural possibilities for adults and children. There are numerous associations that offer different types of sport. Other associations have specialised in museum visits and cultural excursions.

A brief overview of the possibilities for organising your leisure time in Vienna can be found here:

The public libraries Vienna are learning, meeting and communication places. They offer an easy access to information, education and culture as well as entertainment.
- Childrens library for world languages ("Kinderbücherei der Weltsprachen")
- Free Wifi at all locations
- Free library card for kids and youth under 18
- Reduced annual cards for persons with low income (verification required)
- Free book boxes for refugee accommodations
- Free events for kids and adults
- Free discussion groups for adults in order to talk with other people learning German
- Free discussion groups for kids in order to playfully exercise German
- Equipment for learning German
- Literature in various primary languages
- Special tours in a plain language style for people who do not speak German as primary language
www.buechereien.wien.at
www.buechereien.wien.at/de/interkulturellebuecherei

Youth centres
www.jugendzentren.at

Art and culture
www.hungeraufkunstundkultur.at

Sports associations
www.wien.gv.at/freizeit/sportamt/verein/sportarten.html

The association "Bewegungshunger"
(sport and exercise)
www.bewegungshunger.info

Swimming pools in Vienna
www.wien.gv.at/freizeit/baeder

Further links