World

Austria Legalizes Gay Marriage

Austria’s Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples can be legally wed, overturning the country’s law which barred homosexuals from marrying.

The court ruled that gay couples will be able to legally marry starting in 2019. Under previous law, gay couples could join together in civil unions and were afforded all the legal rights of married heterosexual couples, but could not officially marry. The court’s Tuesday ruling, however, overturns this law and repeals all restrictions on gay marriage. The ruling also stipulates that both heterosexual and gay couples can enter into registered partnerships. Same-sex marriage restrictions are set to expire Dec. 31, 2018.

“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot today be maintained without discriminating against same-sex couples,” court justices wrote, according to Politico.

“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 continued, explaining part of the motivation for repealing gay marriage restrictions. Austrian homosexuals have been able to enter binding unions since 2010 and were able to adopt children and access fertility treatments like heterosexual couples.

“Today is a truly historic day,” said lawyer Helmut Graupner, according to The New York Times.

Austria’s vote comes after Germany voted to legalize gay marriage in June. Australia also voted in November to legalize same-sex marriage in a non-binding vote, which will likely become law.

Austria is the sixteenth European country to legalize gay marriage, according to TheNYT.

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