Same-sex couples in Austria will be able to get married from 2019, the country’s Constitutional Court announced on Tuesday, establishing equal rights in one of the few Western European countries that does not allow gay marriage.
Currently, homosexuals are able to enter into “registered partnerships” that offer nearly all of the rights that married couples enjoy.
However, some differences remain: Homosexuals have to be 18, rather than 16, if they want to register their partnerships, and alimony payments are lower for divorced same-sex couples.
“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership […] cannot be upheld at this day and age without discriminating against same-sex couples,” the court said, explaining the ruling that it made on Monday.
As citizens often have to declare their partnership or marriage status to authorities or employers, the current law effectively forces people in registered partnerships to out themselves as homosexuals, the court argued.
Conservatives and the far right, which are currently holding talks to form a new government, both oppose gay marriage.
However, the ruling will lead to a change of the law without giving legislators a say in the matter.