Austria has officially legalised same-sex marriage

Austria makes same-sex marriage legal

Legal partnerships have been an option for same-sex couples since 2010, but the Constitutional Court ruled that the current laws are discriminatory.

It added that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that "people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation".

It also marks a momentous occasion after the recent national elections saw new Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz and his conservative People's Party enter into coalition talks with the far-right Freedom Part, both groups being opposed to a change in the nation's marriage laws.

Helmut Graupner, a lawyer for the two women who brought the case, wrote in a Facebook post that "today is a truly historic day". " said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the verdict was announced".

Legal restraints will be lifted in the European country, with the old regulation scheduled to end on 31 December, 2018.

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Austria's Constitutional Court has ruled that same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by the beginning of 2019, bringing the country in line with more than a dozen other western European nations. A translation of the ruling states the civil partnership "has become even closer to marriage", noting same-sex couples can jointly adopt children and access in-vitro fertilization and other forms of medically assisted reproduction.

The court process had been prompted by a complaint from two women who had been living in a civil partnership and made an application to be able to marry, but were not allowed to do so.

Campaigners welcomed the move, with Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) describing it as an "opportunity for a renewed call for a fundamental reform of marriage". The Netherlands was the first country to approve marriage equality; same-sex couples have been marrying there since 2001.

LGBT rights advocates in Austria have celebrated a landmark ruling that paves the way for same-sex marriage in the country.

Austria's neighbours Germany voted to legalise same-sex marriage in June.

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