Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that from 2019 the country’s same-sex couples will have the right to marry.
Under existing laws, LGBTI Austrians have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 2010 but the country’s definition of marriage included “different sex” partners only.
Those existing laws will end on December 31 next year, unless the country’s government decides to legalislate for same-sex marriage earlier.
“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership can’t be upheld today without discriminating against same-sex couples,” the court explained in a statement.
“The separation of the two legal institutions suggests that people with same-sex sexual orientation are not the same as people with heterosexual orientation.”
Local group The Homosexual Initiative Vienna welcomed the decision and told The Independent the group would use the opportunity to renew calls for “a fundamental reform” of marriage laws.
The ruling brings Austria into line with 15 other European countries.
In June, neighbouring Germany voted resoundingly in favour of same-sex marriage.
Chancellor Angela Merkel personally opposed the reform but it passed after Merkel granted a conscience vote to her conservative MPs.