Austrian court legalizes same-sex marriage starting in 2019

Lynette Rowe
December 7, 2017

The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples....

Ruling calling the language of its current marriage laws discriminatory, Austria's Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex marriage would be allowed in the country starting in 2019.

"People living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations in which it is not, and must not be, relevant and ... are highly likely to be discriminated against", the court continued, explaining part of the motivation for repealing gay marriage restrictions.

The idea behind the law was to minimize discrimination against same-sex couples, while continuing to restrict civil marriage to different-sex couples.

The limitations in question were that the previous definition of marriage allowed it only to be between "different sex" partners.

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Helmut Graupner, a lawyer for the two women who brought the case, wrote in a Facebook post that "today is a truly historic day".

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Same-sex couples in Austria have been allowed to enter legal partnerships since 2010, but until now have not been able to marry.

In the December 4 ruling, the Constitutional Court argued that over the course of time, the differences between civil marriage and registered partnership have diminished. The ruling also stipulates that both heterosexual and gay couples can enter into registered partnerships.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 25 countries. In other countries, including Chile and Taiwan, such legislation is being drafted.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001. This year, Germany and Malta joined the group of European countries in which all couples wishing to legally marry are treated equally.

In Germany, women and men are allowed to Wednesday to a same-sex partner since October. The corresponding decision made by the constitutional court of Austria, reports Reuters.

While LGBTQI couples will have to wait for that rule expiration date to pass, the court also ruled that the individual couple that challenged the issue in court - along with four other couples who filed complaints - would be allowed to marry immediately.

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