Austria’s same-sex couples can get married from 2019, after the country’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that existing laws were “discriminatory”. Austria now joins more than a dozen European countries that legalises gay marriage, including Germany, Britain, France and Spain, AP reported.

Same-sex couples in Austria have been allowed to enter into registered partnership since 2010 –
a status that provides them with almost the same rights as marriage, but prevents them from getting married.

The court on Tuesday was hearing a complaint filed by two women living under registered partnership, but were refused to enter a formal marriage by authorities in Vienna.

“The distinction between marriage and registered partnership cannot be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couple,” the court said. “Because, the separation into two legal institutions expresses that people with same-sex sexual orientation are not the same people with different gender orientation.”

The repeal will come into effect on December 31, 2018, the court said, adding that registered partnerships will continue to be available for couples.

“The legal separation of gender and same-sex relationships into two different legal institutions thus violates the principle of equality of principle of discriminating against people based on personal characteristics such as sexual orientation,” the court concluded.