Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage

Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage

Austria joined the ranks of countries recognizing a universal right to marriage when its highest court ruled Tuesday that barring same-sex couples from wedding was discriminatory.

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.

The 14 judges of the Constitutional Court ruled that marriage should be open to same-sex couples and also that different-sex couples should have the option of availing of registered partnerships.

Same-sex couples in Austria have been allowed to enter legal partnerships since 2010, but until now it had not been legal to marriage.

The ruling brings Austria into line with many other European countries including Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

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"The Austrian Constitutional Court gave the most wonderful Christmas present one could imagine to loving couples", he added.

The move has divided the country's incoming coalition government - the conservative People's Party (OVP) said they would accept the decision, but the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) criticised the court. "The legal separation of gender and same-sex relationships into two different legal institutions thus violates the principle of equality of principle of discriminating against people based on personal characteristics such as sexual orientation". A marriage between women and men needs protection as only these partnerships can create children, he said.

"We are very happy", Homosexual Initiative Vienna Chairman Christian Hoegl told Reuters news agency.

Both parties voted against same-sex marriage when it came before parliament earlier this year. Same-sex marriage has been legal across the United States since 2015.

In April 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in a civil ceremony.

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