Austria's Constitutional Court [official website, in German] ruled [text, PDF, in German] Tuesday that a 2009 law that allowed same-sex couples to enter registered partnerships but not to get married was unconstitutional. In recent years in Austria, same-sex couples in civil partnerships have been allowed to adopt children. Those rights include adoption and support for fertility treatments. "The separation into two legal institutions expresses that people with same sex sexual orientation are not the same people with different gender orientation".
The Austrian bishops' conference refused to endorse the redefining of marriage.
In May 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote, with some 62% of the electorate voting in favour of legalisation.
Helmut Graupner, a lawyer for the two women who brought the case, wrote in a Facebook post that "today is a truly historic day".
Same-sex couples in Austria have been able to enter only into "registered partnerships" since 2010, with almost the same rights of married couples.
Many ex-Communist eastern European countries - including Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia - still deny homosexuals the right to marry or enter into unions.
The OVP, who's leader Sebastian Kurz is expected to be sworn in as chancellor, has said it will accept the ruling. The country is in something of a state of political flux at the moment, with the conservative People's Party now negotiating with the hard-lined far-right Freedom Party to form a coalition Government following on from general elections in October.
"This decision opens up marriage and registered partnerships to all couples", said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis in a statement.
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