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OFFBEAT

Sex club says it was evicted ‘to make way for refugees’

Members of a swingers club in Upper Austria have said they plan to sue the landlord of the building they rent after he terminated their rental contract and changed the locks without any warning.

Sex club says it was evicted 'to make way for refugees'
File photo: APA/Roessler

The Metropolis swingers club in Kleinraming, near Steyr, says it was thrown out so that the landlord could rent the building out as refugee accommodation – and make more money. He denies this and says that he plans to sell the house.

“We opened Club Metropolis in September. But in December, the landlord terminated our rental agreement and changed the locks without any warning,” club chairman Jürgen F. told the Krone newspaper.

He and his girlfriend Janine accuse the building’s owner of throwing them out so that he could rent the 900 square metre property out to refugees.

“We recorded a telephone conversation in which the landlord told us that he could charge at least €12,000 a month if he hosted refugees in the house,” Jürgen F. said.

However, the landlord said that he had been renting the house to swingers clubs for the past ten years and that he had always had problems with the rent not being paid on time.

He said that now he planned to sell the house, and that possibly it would then be used to accommodate asylum seekers.

IMMIGRATION

‘Discrimination’: Austria’s benefit cuts for immigrants ‘go against free movement’

Benefit cuts imposed by Austria on immigrants whose children live in their country of origin contradict EU law becasue they constitute "discrimination on the ground of nationality", a legal adviser at the bloc's top court said on Thursday.

A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg
A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on January 13, 2020. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The opinion is the latest legal hitch to befall a series of measures — imposed by a previous government that included the far-right — which sought to restrict benefit payments to foreigners.

Richard de la Tour, advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said the cuts to child benefits constituted “an infringement of the right of free movement conferred on EU citizens”.

The specific case relates to reforms that came into effect in 2019 which indexed child benefits according to where the recipient’s children live.

This meant reduced payments for tens of thousands of eastern Europeans who work in Austria — notably in the care sector — but whose children remain in their countries of origin.

The advocate general’s advice is not binding on the court but it is seen as influential.

De la Tour found that the cuts were “indirect discrimination on the ground of nationality which is permissible only if it is objectively justified”, and that Austria had failed to do so.

They contravened the principle that “if a migrant worker pays social contributions and taxes in a member state, he or she must be able to benefit from the same allowances as nationals of that state”, he added.

In 2020 the European Commission, supported by six eastern member states, brought an action before the CJEU claiming Austria was “failing to fulfil its obligations”.

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said he hoped the cuts would save 114 million euros ($130 million) a year but in 2019 they recouped 62 million euros.

The former coalition also introduced benefit cuts for immigrants who failed to reach a certain level of German, but those measures were subsequently overturned by the Austrian courts.

The government that introduced in the cuts was brought down in a corruption scandal in May 2019.

It included the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), which is still the senior partner in the current government.

However their current coalition partners, the Greens, opposed the benefit cuts at the time.

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