wednesday, 6 december of 2017

Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage

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

Its constitutional court said the current marriage law violated non-discrimination rules. The ruling also allows heterosexual couples to enter a civil partnership.

The move will bring the country in line with 15 other European countries.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001.

The case was heard after a female couple challenged a 2009 law which allowed registered partnerships for same-sex couples, but not marriage.

In a statement, the court said the distinction between the different kinds of unions could not be upheld because it was discriminatory against same-sex relationships, as it forced people to disclose their sexual orientation in situations where that was not relevant.

Lawyer Helmut Graupner, who represented the couple, praised the ruling on social media. He applauded the Austrian court for recognising equality for same-sex couples as a "fundamental human right".

The move has divided the country's incoming coalition government - the conservative People's Party (OVP) said they would accept the decision, but the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) criticised the court.

Both parties voted against same-sex marriage when it came before parliament earlier this year.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 25 countries around the world.

Austria's neighbours Germany voted to legalise same-sex marriage in June.

Elsewhere Australians recently decisively backed a change to their laws in a postal vote - the result was non-binding but campaigners hope the result will push lawmakers to legalise same-sex unions.

(Published by BBC - December 5, 2017)

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