So, Austrians have just become the latest people to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, bringing the country in line with over a dozen other western European nations. Starting at the beginning of 2019, same-sex couples living in the German-speaking state will be allowed to marry (that is unless the Government decides to change the laws earlier).
The Constitutional Court in Austria says the words "two people of different sex" will be removed from the law on marriage at the end of 2018 on the grounds that distinction is discriminatory.
It comes after a complaint was raised by two women, who are already in a civil partnership but were refused permission to enter a formal marriage by authorities in Vienna.
Austria's Constitutional Court has just decided: same-sex partners will in the future be able to marry in Austria. Treating same-sex partners differently than others is 'discriminatory and thus unconstitutional' pic.twitter.com/pWE7hQzoN5— Martin Weiss (@martinoweiss) December 5, 2017
In a statement, the court insists that "the distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples."
The Austrian lawmakers argue that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that "people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with a heterosexual orientation."
After amendments are made to the law, same-sex couples in Austria will still be able to enter a civil partnership, which has been in place since 2010. But they will also have the option to enter into a state-sanctioned marriage.
Constitutional Court of #Austria has ruled that same-sex marriage will be legalised by 2019. Good news for LGBT couples, and congratulations to those who campaigned on behalf of this issue!— Jack (@Conservative_JA) December 5, 2017
Gay marriage is now legal in most countries in western Europe, most recently in Germany, which for years had held a reputation for being one of its most prominent holdouts.
Almost a dozen other European countries have adopted some sort of same-sex union or introduced civil partnerships, according to the Pew Research Centre.