Austria Will Legalize Same-Sex Marriage Beginning In 2019

Court with President Gerhart Holzinger meets in Vienna Austria. Austria's Constitutional Court has decided on Tuesday Dec. 5 2017 that same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by the

Deutsche Welle reported that in Tuesday's decision the court said that although gay couples already have essentially the same rights as married couples, having been allowed to enter into registered partnerships since 2010, "the distinction between marriage and registered partnership. can not be upheld in this day and age without discriminating against same-sex couples".

He said the Austrian court was the first in Europe to reject a marriage ban for same-sex couples, while other countries legalized gay marriage through political means.

"Today is a truly historic day", said lawyer Helmut Graupner, who represented the two female plaintiffs in court.

Although LGBTQ people in Austria have been able to enter into civil partnerships, the country's definition of marriage had been for "different sex" partners.

"Because the separation into two legal institutions expresses that people with same-sex sexual orientation are not the same people with different sexual orientation".

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It also marks a momentous occasion after the recent national elections saw new Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz and his conservative People's Party enter into coalition talks with the far-right Freedom Part, both groups being opposed to a change in the nation's marriage laws.

"Now there is equal treatment for something that's not equal", Herbert Kickl, the party's secretary-general, said in a statement.

Austria just became the latest nation to vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

"We are very happy", said The Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) chairman Christian Hoegl.

Twenty-four countries already have marriage equality. Australia aims to pass a law to this effect early next month after 62 percent of voters favored marriage equality in a national survey. Men who have sex with men are also not allowed to donate blood.

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