Austria began recognizing same-sex civil unions in 2010, but the country’s constitutional court ruled Tuesday that current marriage law (which defines marriage as between “two people of different sex”) discriminates against same-sex couples. Thus, they ruled that and the country must remove that gender-biased phrase and allow marriage equality by 2019 unless the Austrian Parliament decides to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriages before then. Yes! Austria marriage equality will soon be legal.
Understanding the Austria marriage equality decision
The constitutional court case came about from two women denied a formal marriage license by governmental authorities in Vienna.
In a statement about their decision, the court wrote:
The distinction between marriage and registered partnership can not be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples…. Because the separation into two legal institutions expresses that people with same-sex sexual orientation are not the same people with different sexual orientation.
In 2019, Austria’s civil unions will also become open to heterosexual couples.
Austria will soon join the 15 countries other in western Europe with legalized marriage equality including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Despite Austria marriage equality, the country still lacks other LGBT rights
Despite the country’s soon-coming legalization of marriage equality, it still lags behind in other rights. While Austria allows openly LGBT people to serve in the military, to adopt and also allows transgender people to change their legal gender, the country has no anti-discrimination laws protecting gender identity nor public accommodation laws requiring businesses to provide goods and services to LGBT people. Men who have sex with men are also not allowed to donate blood.
Nevertheless, the German-speaking country has its own share of gay history. A famous 18th century military strategist Prince Franz Eugen of Savoy and Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI both reportedly enjoyed the company of men, and numerous 19th century writers advocated for lesbian relationships in Austria as a means of feminism.
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