Austria's supreme court paves way for same-sex marriage from 2019

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Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Austria from 2019, the country's supreme court ruled on Tuesday and said a law to the contrary violated the principle of non-discrimination.

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.

"Today, the differentiation between marriage and legally registered partnerships can no longer be upheld without discriminating against same-sex couples", the court wrote.

The ruling also allows heterosexual couples to enter a civil partnership. "It is inspiring to see love prevail as the world faces a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ activism that reminds us of the work that must still be done to accelerate acceptance". Australia also voted in November to legalize same-sex marriage in a non-binding vote, which will likely become law.

As it now stands, same-sex couples in Austria had been allowed to enter civil partnerships for the last seven years.

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That left sexual orientation as the main difference between those allowed to marry and those who could enter only into a legal partnership, which the court found discriminatory.

The Associated Press reports that in doing so, Austria joins 15 different Western European countries where same-sex marriage is allowed.

However, the conservative People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party, which are in negotiations for a government coalition, both oppose same-sex marriage. The two were already in a civil partnership, but they were refused a formal marriage in Vienna by the city's authorities. Same-sex marriage has been legal across the United States since 2015.

In 2010, Austria adopted a law on registered partnership, applicable only to same-sex couples.