Austrian Constitutional Courts have decided that they can longer maintain the distinction between civil partnership and marriage as it discriminates against same-sex couples.
The case was based on the complaint made by two women living in a registered partnership who were refused to enter into a marriage. This motion was rejected by the Municipal Council of Vienna and subsequently by the Vienna Administrative Court.
There are not many other distinctions between civil partnerships and marriage in Austria: same-sex couples already hold the same rights in terms of adoption, all differences are minor.
The courts found that having to designate a difference in marital status (‘married’ versus ‘living in registered partnership’), runs the risk of same-sex couples being discriminated against, in contexts where sexual orientation plays no role.
Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by January 2019, unless the Government brings this forward itself.
This ruling will also allow straight couples to enter into partnerships which was previously only designated to same-sex partners.
This would bring Austria in line with the majority of Europe, including Ireland, making it the 17th European Nation to fully recognise same-sex marriage.
In a statement, Austria’s Constitutional Court said “the distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples,” adding that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that “people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation”.
The conservative People’s Party and the far-right Freedom Party, who are currently in negotiation for a government coalition, are both opposed to same-sex marriage.
In the last few minutes, the Homosexual Initiative in Austria has released a statement saying, “We welcome the decision of the constitutional court today to open marriage for same-sex couples as well as the registered partnership for straight couples.”
The news has been welcomed by LGBT+ members who have tweeted about the good news this morning:
Austria legalizes gay marriage in 2019! I am no longer a second class citizen. 🏳️🌈❤️
— Peter Steinberger (@steipete) December 5, 2017
Austria finally passed the same Sex Marriage Law and my Friends are finally able to get married in 2019 😭💕
— Sapphy ✨ (@yousorous) December 5, 2017
Welcome to the marriage equality club, Austria! We’re delighted to have you.
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