Austria Constitutional Court strikes down law banning same-sex marriage

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". The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples", a translated statement from the court reads.

"The resulting discriminatory effect is seen in the fact that through the different title of the family status 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", it added.

In Austria a 2009 law allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships but stopped short of allowing them to marry. " said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the verdict was announced".

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The current rules on marriage will remain in place until at least the end of 2018, unless Austria's parliament decides to legislate and change their marriage rules in the interim.

The European country has become the latest to gain marriage equality after its Supreme Court lifted legal restraints that prevented same-sex couples from tying the knot.

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

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

"We are very happy", Homosexual Initiative Vienna Chairman Christian Hoegl told Reuters news agency.

In June, just after Austria's neighbor Germany changed the rules, both parties voted in parliament against proposals to change the law on same-sex unions.

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Austria is now the 16th European country to legalise same-sex unions.

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