A female same-sex couple tied the knot shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day in Austria, the first to officially do so after marriage equality became legal in the country on January 1.
Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier tied the knot at a late-night ceremony in Velden in the country’s south, public broadcaster ORF reported.
The Austrian couple (pictured), both 37, had reportedly been engaged for four years.
“Getting married was only a matter of time for us, or rather a matter of legal regulation,” Nicole told ORF.
“Now everyone has the chance to decide for themselves if they want a ‘marriage for all’ or if they want a registered partnership.
“That was not the case before. We decided to marry and we’re happy about it.”
Registered partnerships were made available to same-sex couples in Austria in 2010, but the unions offered couples fewer rights than civil marriage.
In 2017, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples should also be granted the right to marry.
“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership can not be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples,” the court explained at the time.
“Because the separation into two legal institutions expresses that people with same-sex sexual orientation are not the same people with different sexual orientation.”
The five same-sex couples who successfully challenged the ban on same-sex marriage in the court were given permission to marry early, with at least one couple reportedly marrying at a registry office in mid-October last year.
Same-sex marriage has now been made legal in 16 European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, and Sweden.