SoHo (party group)

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Social Democracy & Homosexuality - Working group for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people
purpose Spokesperson, lobby group and contact point for homosexuals and transgender people in Austrian social democracy
Chair: Mario Lindner
Establishment date: 1994 in Vienna
Seat : Vienna

SoHo is short for Social Democracy & Homosexuality . The working group is committed to equal rights and equal opportunities for lesbians , gays , bisexuals and transgender people in Austria.

The SoHo sees itself as a mouthpiece, interest group and contact point for homosexuals and transgender people and is the representative in the SPÖ for these matters. SoHo pursues the goal of full equality and protection from discrimination in Austria .

In addition to the federal organization, there are regional organizations in Vienna (1994), Styria (before 2000), Tyrol (2000), Salzburg and Upper Austria (2005).


The year of birth of SoHo - who referred to themselves as "Schwusos" until 1995 - can be numbered as 1994, because in the summer of that year the working group for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people was founded in the social democracy within the VSStÖ Vienna. On September 7th the community wrote a letter to all candidates who had run for the SPÖ as part of the National Council election campaign. In this letter they called on the candidates to campaign for the abolition of discriminatory laws, above all for the abolition of paragraphs §209, §220 and §221 in the Criminal Code. Because even after the total ban on homosexuality was abolished in 1971, there were other statutory provisions that restricted the lives of homosexual people. According to §209, the sexual maturity of homosexual and heterosexual men was assessed as different: “A person of the male sex who, after reaching the age of 19, commits fornication with a person who has reached the age of 14 but not yet 18 , is punished with a prison sentence of six months to five years ”. At the same time, this regulation meant that homosexuality was classified differently between men and women - that of women (as it was not associated with penetration by the legislature) was not regulated in the same way. §220 stipulated a ban on advertising for "fornication with persons of the same sex or with animals", §221 forbade "favoring same-sex fornication". Furthermore, homosexual partners had no right to information about hospital stays, other forms of discrimination (registered partners still have no right of adoption) are still ongoing. The demands of SoHo, which at the time was not yet a statutory network, met with great approval within the party. For example, Erwin Niederwieser (at the time a member of the National Council) spoke out in favor of “recognition of same-sex partnerships”, and many others, including Brigitte Ederer , insured support. SoHo carries out awareness raising and lobbying within the SPÖ , health and social policy and the promotion of a gay subculture.

Goals and socio-political orientation

An excerpt from the SoHo folder, which was published together with the VSStÖ in 1994/95, shows the political location of the organization: “The SoHo sees itself as a political group within the gay and lesbian movement. We are open to all lesbians and gays and their sympathizers who are convinced that homosexuality is not a private matter. At least not as long as the state and society interfere in our interpersonal relationships.
The guiding principle of our work are the basic values ​​of democratic socialism : freedom, equality, justice and solidarity. We take these basic values ​​seriously and believe that a society that is based on them can demand ethical norms and make compliance with them socially possible, but it cannot prescribe behavior and lifestyles - not even those that are shared by the majority of the population. An open and diverse society, as we want to see it realized, must accept the life patterns of sexual minorities without a wink. ”Workshops and discussion evenings on current topics are organized, press work is carried out and the structures are developed for long-term anchoring. The magazine “Offensiv”, which is published by the VSStÖ Vienna, also regularly contains articles that deal with the unequal treatment of homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people. Heinz Miko and Felix Görner, the founders of SOHO, coordinate the work of the group.

Founding of an association and institutionalization within the SPÖ

In 1996 it was anchored as an initiative in the SPÖ Vienna. A SoHo meeting was held on October 18, 1998, where the activists were faced with the problem of having a large number of interested parties - around 150 people - but lacking statutes and budgets themselves. Likewise, there was no recognition by the social democratic federal party and thus the seats in the corresponding bodies. So the activists professionalized their way of working and drafted an application to become a firmly anchored part of the party. On World AIDS Day 1998, the SOHO group applied to the SPÖ federal party for approval of the initiative group in accordance with Section 28 of the Organizational Statute. The signatories of the application were Kurt Zernig , Felix Görner, Günther Tolar , Hans-Peter Weingand , Manfred Wolf, Elvira Franta, Roberta Grandl, Irene Brickner , Raoul Fortner and Heinz Schubert. On September 14, 1999, SoHo and the association Social Democracy & Homosexuality, a working group for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people in Austrian social democracy (SoHo Austria), with an association base in the ega (the communication center of SPÖ women) were founded. The first election of the board took place. In addition, not only was a federal organization founded, but two regional organizations were also created: the SOHOs Vienna and Styria, which were thus part of the status. This was the prerequisite for then in April 2000 to be recognized as a friendly, legally independent organization of the SPÖ and to be able to send delegates to the party congress. Further regional groups were founded in Upper Austria, Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg and the federal organization moved into the SPÖ headquarters in Löwelstrasse. In addition, the SoHo expanded its topics, focused on intersectionality, worked out requirements for the areas of “sexual orientation and impairment” and “sexuality and migration behavior”.

Successes of the lesbian and gay movement

In 2002, §209 was repealed by the Constitutional Court. A first parliamentary vote on this took place on July 17, 1998, but a majority required to abolish it could not be found under black and blue. The registered partnership came into effect on January 1, 2010. Now same-sex partners can legally secure their relationships for the first time and become partners at the registry office. This was also a success of SoHo, which had influenced the SPÖ's line and thus the party's government work since 2005 with motions and sensitizations.


  • Heinz Miko (1994-1998)
  • Felix Görner (1998-2000)
  • Günter Tolar, (2000-2007)
  • Peter Traschkowitsch (2007-2017)
  • Mario Lindner (since 2017)


Festbuch 1994 - 2009 / SoHo - Social Democratic Homosexual Organization. Social Democratic Homosexual Organization [author]; Gössl, Martin J., 1983- [Editor] Vienna: Social Democracy & Homosexuality Austria; 2009


  1. : Prock: SoHo Tirol is an important sign that homosexuals “come to the curtain” , November 11, 2000
  2. ^ [1] : Website of the VSStÖ Vienna
  3. [2] : The SoHo ( - History of Austrian Social Democracy)
  4. [3] : Website for campaigning against §209, as of September 20, 2012
  5. [4] : Website for campaigning against §209, as of September 20, 2012
  6. : “SoHo Wien” constituted as a separate association , September 21, 2001
  7. : Tolar: “Would like to achieve equality for homosexuals in all areas of life” , October 2, 2000
  8. ^ SPÖ Federal Councilor Lindner new SoHo chairman. The standard, accessed June 3, 2017 .