Austria Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

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Austria's supreme court has ruled to legalise same-sex marriage in the country from 1 January 2019.

Same-sex marriage restrictions are set to expire December 31, 2018.

"The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples", the court said.

It added that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that "people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation".

"The judges ruled that banning same-sex couples from civil marriage is a violation of the fundamental principle that people are entitled to be treated equally, and that the state is not allowed to discriminate against people based on their personal characteristics", said Boris Dittrich, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "It is inspiring to see love prevail as the world faces a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ activism that reminds us of the work that must still be done to accelerate acceptance".

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Both parties voted against same-sex marriage when it came before parliament earlier this year.

Other European countries - including Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic - allow same-sex couples the right to enter into civil partnerships, which grants them many rights equivalent to those of married couples, as was the case in Austria.

The move brings Austria into line with other European countries including Germany, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Spain.

"We are very happy", said The Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) chairman Christian Hoegl. Austria marriage equality will soon be legal.

The limitations in question were that the previous definition of marriage allowed it only to be between "different sex" partners.