Austria has just legalised same-sex marriage.

While same-sex couples in the European country have been legally able to enter civil partnerships since 2010, the new ruling made today (November 5) by the Constitutional Court means gay couples will be able to get married.

The decision was made after the court examined a complaint about a 2009 ruling, which had left a gay couple denied the right to enter a formal marriage by Viennese authorities.

The court said in a statement: “The distinction between marriage and civil partnership can no longer be maintained today without discriminating against same-sex couples.”

They added that by banning gay couples the right, it meant “people with same-sex sexual orientation are not equal to people with heterosexual orientation”.

Restrictions on same-sex marriages will now be lifted at some point in 2018, unless the government opts to do it sooner.

Many eastern European countries – such as Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – still deny gay people the right to marry or even enter into civil unions.

The landmark ruling makes Austria the 16th European country to legalise same-sex marriage.