Austria’s Supreme Court opens marriage to same-sex couples

By January 1st, 2019, gay and lesbian couples can tie the knot in Austria as well

Verfassungsrichter
VfGH/Achim Bieniek

Diesen Artikel auf Deutsch lesen

Austria’s Supreme Court has opened marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Neglecting them the right to marry discriminates them because of their sexual orientation, the Verfassungsgerichtshof (VfGH) in Vienna ruled today.

It’s discrimination to deny gay couples marriage, the court says

The Supreme Court decided to check marriage law ex officio, after marriage was denied to a female couple in Vienna. If the parliament doesn’t open marriage earlier, homosexual couples can marry in Austria by January 1st, 2019. On the same day, civil unions are open to straight couples.

Civil unions for same-sex couples were introduced in Austria in 2010. During the last years, the number of differences between marriage and civil unions became less and less. So they have the same rights on adoption or in vitro fertilisation.

Marriage in Austria will be opened for all couples from 2019 on

Therefore, there is no reason for two different unions, according to the judges of the VfGH. The separation between marriages for one group and civil unions for another shows that homosexual persons have not the equal rights as heterosexual persons, the judges say.

The Supreme Court overruled the phrase “two persons of different gender” in the Austrian marriage law, and the corresponding phrase in the civil union law. Before that decision, the court already defeated other discriminatory decistions that refused rights to couples in civil unions.

Austria is the first European country to recognize marriage equality for same-gender couples as a fundamental human right. All the other European states with marriage equality introduced it the political way.