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25 countries embrace same-sex marriage

The first country to legalize same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001
A gay-themed traffic light is pictured in Vienna, Austria - Photo: Leonhard Foeger/REUTERS
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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 move brings Austria into line with many other European nations.

On Facebook, lawyer Helmut Graupner, who represented the two female plaintiffs in court, wrote:“Austria is the first European country to recognize marriage equality for same-gender couples as a fundamental human right. All the other European states with marriage equality introduced it (just) the political way.”

Austria’s constitutional court examined a 2009 law that allows registered partnerships for same-sex couples but prevents them from getting married. It acted at the request of two women who were rejected by two lower authorities.

The distinction between marriage and registered partnership can no longer be upheld without discriminating against same-sex couples, the court said in a statement.

“The resulting discriminatory effect is seen in the fact that 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 against,” the court said in its ruling.

The Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI) welcomed the court’s 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.”

This year, Malta, Germany, Finland, legalized same-sex marriage with hopes being pinned on both Austria and Australia to become the next countries to do so.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Malta, Germany, Finland, Colombia, Ireland, United States, Greenland, Scotland, Luxembourg, England and Wales, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, Denmark, Argentina, Portugal, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Australia aims to pass a law to this effect early next month after 62 percent of voters favored marriage equality in a national survey. Shortly after the same-sex marriage bill was introduced to the Lower House, Liberal Member of Parliament Tim Wilson proposed to his long-term partner Ryan Bolger in the House of Representatives.


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