Austria Has Legalised Same-Sex Marriage with a Court Ruling for Equality

So, Austrians have just become the latest people to vote in favour 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).

A couple kisses during the 21st annual Gay Pride Parade in Rome (Image: Giuseppe Ciccia/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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.

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.

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. 

By Matthew Kirby, publish on 05/12/2017