LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Congratulations to Austria - court overturns barriers to equal marriage

This morning, a judgment from Austria’s Constitutional Court has opened up the option of equal marriage to same-sex couples.

The 14 judges of the Constitutional Court ruled that marriage should be open to same-sex couples and also that different-sex couples should have the option of availing of registered partnerships.

The Court concluded that “…the legal separation of gender and same-sex relationships into two different legal institutions thus violates the principle of equality."

This decision opens up marriage and registered partnerships to all couples; it is a really positive and refreshingly inclusive judgment.

ILGA-Europe are sending all our congratulations to the LGBTI activists, legal experts (including Helmut Graupner who represented the couple involved in this case throughout their journey), supporters of the Ehe-gleich citizen’s initiative, and all the allies who stood together to call for equality.” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the verdict was announced.

It is expected that marriage equality and equal access to registered partnerships will be available from 1 January 2019 at the latest (unless parliament acts even sooner and repeals or amends the law before 31 December 2018).

Today’s judgment follows an earlier preliminary ruling from the Constitutional Court on 12 October that having registered partnership as the only option for same-sex couples is not permissible, even if registered partnerships and marriage are made legally "absolutely identical.” The court then instituted proceedings to delete the words "of different sex" from the Austrian Civil Code's marriage law.

  • Austria currently sits at 14th in the Rainbow Europe ranking on law and policy: (Please note that the Rainbow Europe ranking for each country is only updated when the law or policy is in force, so Austria’s ranking for marriage equality will be altered when the law in in force!).
  • The Constitutional Court’s press release is available (in German) here.