In a statement, it said "the distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples", adding that keeping the two institutions separate suggests that "people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation". Nevertheless, our Dumb & Dumber-punchline sister country Austria - that's A-U-S-T-R-I-A - has just seen a landmark court ruling that will see the country gain marriage equality by no later than 2019.
"This decision opens up marriage and registered partnerships to all couples; it is a really positive and refreshingly inclusive judgment". " said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, speaking after the verdict was announced".
Austria joined the ranks of countries recognizing a universal right to marriage when its highest court ruled Tuesday that barring same-sex couples from wedding was discriminatory. A translation of the ruling states the civil partnership "has become even closer to marriage", noting same-sex couples can jointly adopt children and access in-vitro fertilization and other forms of medically assisted reproduction.
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"We are very happy", Homosexual Initiative Vienna Chairman Christian Hoegl told Reuters news agency.
As it now stands, same-sex couples in Austria had been allowed to enter civil partnerships for the last seven years.
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Helmut Graupner, a lawyer for the two women who brought the case, said that this is the first time that a European court has lifted a ban on same-sex marriage.
Both parties voted against same-sex marriage when it came before parliament earlier this year.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 25 countries.
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Austria is now the 16th European country to legalise same-sex unions.
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