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06 December 2017, 09:08 | Opal Carroll
Austria has officially legalised same-sex marriage
The distinction between a civil partnership and marriage can no longer be upheld without discriminating against same-sex couples, the court said.
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. " said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the verdict was announced".
The ruling paves the way for the removal of the phrase "different sex" from Austria's marriage law on December 31, 2018.
It also ruled that civil partnerships must also be open to heterosexual couples and not just same-sex ones as at present.
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.
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The Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) celebrated the ruling, according to HOSI chairman Christian Hoegl, who commented, "We are very happy".
The Constitutional Court took up the issue following a complaint from two women who were already in a partnership but were refused permission to enter a formal marriage by authorities in Vienna.
The repeal will allow same-sex couples to get married and allow mixed-sex couples to enter registered partnerships.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 25 countries around the world.
The Associated Press reports that in doing so, Austria joins 15 different Western European countries where same-sex marriage is allowed.
It is therefore up to each member state to introduce same-sex marriage or civil unions.
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