Austria’s Constitutional Court ruled today that same-sex couples can marry beginning in 2019, saying existing laws violate constitutional provisions against discrimination.
Same-sex couples in Austria have been able to enter into registered partnerships
since 2010, a status that provides most of the same rights as marriage, but were unable to legally marry.
“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot today be maintained without discriminating against same-sex couples”, the court wrote in its published opinion.
Existing restrictions on marriage are inherently discriminatory against same-sex couples, the court argued, because disclosing one’s marital status automatically indicated whether the partnership was a same-sex or heterosexual one.
“People living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations in which it is not, and must not be, relevant and … are highly likely to be discriminated against”, the court wrote.
Under the court’s ruling, registered partnerships will still exist but will be available to both same-sex and heterosexual couples. Current restrictions on same-sex marriage will expire on December 31, 2018, unless the Austrian parliament chooses to lift them sooner.
Green light to marriage equality in Austria