Austria becomes latest European country to legalise same-sex marriage

Austria becomes latest European country to legalise same-sex marriage

Gay marriage has already been legalized in 15 countries in western Europe, including in Germany, which until this year was the biggest holdout.

Austria's Constitutional Court has announced that gay marriage will be legalized in the Catholic-majority nation starting in 2019, arguing that its traditional marriage law is "discriminatory".

Same-sex couples in Austria will be able to legally marry from 2019 after a ruling by the country's top court.

Same-sex couples in Austria have been allowed to enter legal partnerships since 2010, but until now have not been able to marry.

"Today is a truly historic day", said Helmut Graupner, a lawyer who represented the two women who brought the case before the court.

"Thus, after the annulment, marriage and registered partnership are open to both same- and opposite-sex couples". The country is in something of a state of political flux at the moment, with the conservative People's Party now negotiating with the hard-lined far-right Freedom Party to form a coalition Government following on from general elections in October. "The legal separation of gender and same-sex relationships into two different legal institutions thus violates the principle of equality of principle of discriminating against people based on personal characteristics such as sexual orientation".

Civil partnerships will still remain an option for same-sex couples, but will now be made available to heterosexual couples as well, in an attempt to provide equality across the board.

The ruling brings Austria up to speed with other European nations including Germany, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, all of which have legalized same-sex marriage in the past several years. Men who have sex with men are also not allowed to donate blood.