VIENNA – Laws blocking same-sex marriage in Austria are soon to be abolished after the Constitutional Court (VfGH) on Tuesday announced that it had ruled them discriminatory.
The Alpine republic had until now given same-sex couples the option to enter civil partnerships, but laws still specified that marriage could only occur between people of different sexes.
“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples,” read a statement from the Court, which had concluded that “the separation of relationships into two different legal institutions violated the principle of equality and discriminated against people based on personal characteristics, such as sexual orientation.”
The decision was adopted on Monday, said the VfGH, after two lesbians, whose relationship was legally classified as a “registered union,” filed a lawsuit when they were denied marriage licenses by Viennese authorities.
The repeal of the old legislation is to remove the “different sex” distinction from marriage laws and is to come into force on Dec. 31, 2018, unless Parliament brings it forward.
Once this occurs, all couples are expected to be able to decide whether they enter a traditional marriage or a registered union, unless Parliament decides to abolish the second option.
There is no legal difference between the two types of unions, after the Constitutional Court in 2016 lifted a ban on same-sex couples adopting children.