Two activists from a gay rights organisation based in Vienna were fully acquitted in their appeal against a court ruling yesterday.

The chairman of the Homosexual Initiative (HOSI), Christian Högl, and general-secretary Kurt Krickler, had been accused of libel by a Member of Parliament from the Christian-Conservative Party, Walter Tancsits.

The accused had lost a previous trial and were ordered to reimburse the MP an April court ruling.

What appeared to be a free speech issue to the activists was viewed by the politician as libel.

In 2005 Kurt Krickler accused the MP of upholding Nazi ideology.

A HOSI press release criticised the Christian-Conservative Party’s refusal to include homosexuals in a law on the reimbursement of Nazi-regime.

“It is a shame for our country that even today brown Nazi apologists like Mr Tancsits are allowed to be a member of parliament,” Mr Krickler said in a 2005 press release.

It seems as if the court’s delay in dealing with the case has influenced the outcome.

The court yesterday explicitly referred recent judgement of the European Court of Human Rights.

This explains why the activists have been acquitted by the same court that had found them guilty two years before.

The libel case might also be taken up by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg itself as Mr Tancsits announced that he is going to appeal yesterday’s court ruling.