Austria’s Constitutional Court has decided that same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by the beginning of 2019, ruling that the existing laws are discriminatory.

The move brings Austria into line with many other European nations including Germany, France, Britain and Spain.

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

Australia senate passes same-sex marriage bill

The Constitutional Court examined a 2009 law following a complaint from two women who were refused permission to enter a formal marriage by authorities in Vienna.

It said in a ruling published on Tuesday that restrictions on same-sex marriage will be lifted at the end of 2018 unless the government does so itself earlier.

The Constitutional Court said that civil partnerships will remain an option after the law is changed, and will then be open to straight couples. 

In a statement, Austria’s Constitutional Court said “the distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples,” adding that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that “people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation”.

Gay marriage has been legalised in many countries in western Europe, most recently in Germany, where there was stiff opposition to the change for several years.

Almost a dozen other European countries have some sort of same-sex unions or civil partnerships, according to the Pew Research Centre.

World news in pictures

World news in pictures

    • 4 December 2017

      A man exercises in a park on a winter morning in Kolkata, India

      REUTERS

    • 3 December 2017

      A supporter of Salvador Nasralla, presidential candidate for the Opposition Alliance Against the Dictatorship, puts a balloon on the shield of a soldier in a protest while the country is still mired in chaos over a contested presidential election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

      REUTERS

    • 2 December 2017

      A man dressed as Santa Claus skiis down a mountain during the Saint Nicholas Day at the Alpine ski resort of Verbier, Switzerland

      REUTERS

    • 1 December 2017

      A nurse takes blood for a HIV test for French President Emmanuel Macron as he visits the Delafontaine Hospital on World Aids Day

      Reuters

    • 30 November 2017

      An activist pours gasoline as an effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump burns during a protest action against Duterte’s plan to set up a Revolutionary Government, along a street in metro Manila, Philippines

      Reuters

    • 29 November 2017

      South Korea’s Hyunmoo II missile is fired during an exercise at an undefined location in the east coast of South Korea

      The Defence Ministry/Yonhap via REUTERS

    • 28 November 2017

      People fall as police fire tear gas to try control the crowd trying to force their way into Kasarani Stadium to attend the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi

      REUTERS

    • 27 November 2017

      Rohingya refugee Amina Khatun, 55, rests at the bank of the Naf river after crossing it on an improvised raft to reach Bangladesh, in Teknaf. Two of her sons were killed by gun fire when her village was attacked by Myanmar military, she says

      Reuters

    • 26 November 2017

      Mount Agung volcano is seen spewing smoke and ash in Bali

      EMILIO KUZMA-FLOYD/via REUTERS

    • 25 November 2017

      A Pakistani protester throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad

      AFP/Getty Images

    • 24 November 2017

      Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa arrives ahead of his inauguration ceremony to be sworn in as president in Harare

      Reuters

    • 23 November 2017

      Comrades of missing crew members express their grief after the Argentine Navy announced that the sound detected in the missing submarine search is consistent with an explosion

      AFP

    • 22 November 2017

      Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic shouts at the presiding judge during the verdict hearing in his genocide trial, in The Hague, Netherlands

      EPA

    • 21 November 2017

      People and soldiers celebrate after the resignation of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe

      AFP/Getty

    • 20 November 2017

      Israeli security forces carry away an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish demonstrator as they disperse a protest against Israeli army conscription in Bnei Brak, a city near Tel Aviv

      AFP/Getty

    • 19 November 2017

      Participants crossing the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge as they compete in the 2017 Qingdao International Marathon on the Sea in Qingdao, in China’s eastern Shandong province

      AFP/Getty

    • 18 November 2017

      Women shout pro-freedom slogans as people carry the remains of Mugees Mir, a suspected militant who according to local media was killed in an encounter with the Indian security forces in Zakura, during his funeral in Srinagar

      Reuters/Danish Ismail

    • 17 November 2017

      Riot police use stones to disperse the convoy of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga as they attempt to access the Uhuru Park grounds upon his return

      REUTERS

    • 16 November 2017

      Donald Trump has awkward water bottle moment at the White House while talking about his latest overseas trip in Asia

      EPA

    • 15 November 2017

      Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe

      Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

    • 14 November 2017

      An Iranian boy rides a bicycle through the rubble from damaged buildings in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab. A 7.3-magnitude earthquake left hundreds killed and thousands homeless two days before.

      AFP/Getty Images

    • 13 November 2017

      Gianluigi Buffon reacts during Italy’s World Cup qualification match against Sweden. He retired from international duty after the Azzurri failed to go through.

      AFP/Getty

    • 12 November 2017

      Pepole hold placards demanding the return of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia during the annual Beirut International Marathon

      EPA

    • 11 November 2017

      Polish nationalists light flares as they take part in the March of Independence 2017 in Warsaw

      EPA

    • 10 November 2017

      Protesters rally near the U.S. Embassy in Manila to protest this weekend’s visit of President Donald Trump

      AP

    • 9 November 2017

      Shiite faithful pilgrims gather between the holy shrine of Imam Hussein and the holy shrine of Imam Abbas for Arbaeen

      AP

    • 8 November 2017

      A woman wearing a scarf to cover her face looks on as she waits for a passenger bus on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India. Air pollution reached unprecedented levels in the city, prompting the government’s Central Pollution Control Board to recommend emergency free public transport

      Reuters

    • 7 November 2017

      Russian solider stands in line at a military parade, that marks the anniversary of the 1941 parade, when Soviet soldiers marched towards the front lines of World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia

      Reuters

    • 6 November 2017

      A Houthi follower emerges from a gap in a flag as he attends a rally to show support to the Palestinians in Sanaa, Yemen

      Reuters

    • 5 November 2017

      Riot police run past an excavator, during a demonstration against open-cast brown coal mining of Garzweiler, northwest of Cologne, Germany

      Reuters

    • 4 November 2017

      Protesters at a climate demonstration prior to the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany

      EPA

    • 32/38 3 November 2017

      The first customer shows his new iPhone X after buying it at an Apple Store in Beijing, China

      Reuters/Damir Sagolj

    • 33/38 2 November 2017

      South African opposition Party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members dance during a demonstration to express their solidarity with the Palestinians in front of the Embassy of Israel in Pretoria. Today is the 100th anniversary of Britain’s Balfour Declaration, which helped lead to Israel’s creation and the Israel occupation of Palestine

      AFP/Getty

    • 34/38 1 November 2017

      Near the parliament building in Athens, Greece, a girl holds a placard reading, “Where is my mother, where is my father?” Some refugees have announced a hunger strike, as they seek reunification with family members in Germany

      Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

    • 35/38 31 October 2017

      Authorities investigate the pickup truck and scene of a terror attack in downtown New York

      EPA

    • 36/38 30 October 2017

      An officer carries a school girl away from continuing battles with police and protesters in Kenya

      EPA

    • 37/38 29 October 2017

      A Rohingya woman washes clothes in a stream at Palong Khali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

      Reuters/Adnan Abidi

    • 38/38 28 October 2017

      ‘Day of the Dead’ parade, Mexico City

      Rex Features

    The conservative People’s Party and the far-right Freedom Party, which are in negotiations for a government coalition and both oppose same-sex marriage, could not immediately be reached for comment.

    The Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) welcomed the decision. “We are very happy,” said HOSI chairman Christian Hoegl. “We want to use the opportunity for a renewed call for a fundamental reform of marriage.”

    • More about:

    Reuse content