As it now stands, same-sex couples in Austria had been allowed to enter civil partnerships for the last seven years.
Austria's Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples can be legally Wednesday, overturning the country's law which barred homosexuals from marrying. Civil partnerships will also become available for straight couples.
"Everyone deserves the full right to marry the person they love and build lasting relationships and families in their communities, and today Austria's highest court ruled in favor of equality with this historic victory", said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
In a statement, the Constitutional Court said that any "distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples".
The idea behind the law was to minimize discrimination against same-sex couples, while continuing to restrict civil marriage to different-sex couples. For example, since 2016 same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt children, and all couples have equal access to medically assisted reproduction.
The Constitutional Court took up the issue following a complaint from two women who were already in a partnership but were refused permission to enter a formal marriage by authorities in Vienna. Therefore, in the absence of any action by the government and parliament, as of January 1, 2019, registered partnerships will also be opened to different-sex couples. Same-sex marriage has been legal across the United States since 2015.
Austria is now the 26th country to legalise same-sex marriage. In other countries, including Chile and Taiwan, such legislation is being drafted. The corresponding decision made by the constitutional court of Austria, reports Reuters.
According to The New York Times, the court advised that gay couples be allowed to marry starting in 2019, unless lawmakers act sooner.
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