Last update on February 26, 2021
Gayatri Bhaumik Written by Gayatri Bhaumik

From laws and attitudes towards gay marriage in Austria to tying the knot and registering a partnership, we explain all you need to know.

Same-sex couples looking to relocate to Austria will be pleased to know that they will receive most of the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Furthermore, because of Austria’s push for equality and generally tolerant attitudes, there has been a lot of progress for the rights of same-sex couples over the last decade. As such, gay marriage in Austria became legal in 2019 and confers an ever-increasing list of rights. To get married, same-sex couples will generally go through the same process as any other couple hoping to tie the knot in Austria.

This helpful guide explains everything you need to know about gay marriage in Austria, including the following information:

Gay marriage in Austria

In Austria, same-sex couples have been able to enter a registered partnership since 1 January 2010. However, it was only on 1 January 2019 that gay marriage in Austria became legal. Thanks to this, many couples that had been dating chose to formalize their relationships.

Gay marriage

As such, of the total number of marriages (44,997) in 2019, 990 were between same-sex couples. Similarly, of the 1,257 registrations of partnerships in Austria in 2019, only 133 were same-sex couples. This included 191 couples that converted their registered partnership into a marriage. 

The laws on gay marriage in Austria

Like any other marriage, laws and legislation govern gay marriage in Austria. Therefore, same-sex couples must meet certain criteria to marry and access the benefits that their union confers. 

Requirement and rights in Austria

Same-sex couples must meet the same requirements as anyone else in order to marry in Austria. And fortunately, given that there are not very many requirements for marrying in the country, this is fairly easy to do. Essentially, both parties must be at least 18 years old (or 16 years with parental consent). But, there are no restrictions on residency, nationality, or anything else. In addition, the couple must go through the same registration process to legalize their marriage. 

Austria places great emphasis on equality for everyone. As such, same-sex couples who decide to tie the knot can enjoy all the same rights as any other married couple. For example, gay couples can adopt, and one partner can adopt the other’s biological child. Similarly, lesbian couples can access artificial insemination and IVF treatments if they want to have biological children. In addition, gay marriage in Austria affords each partner the legal status for shared property rights and power of attorney, for example. You can read more about buying real estate in Austria in our handy guide.

Attitudes towards gay marriage in Austria

Austria greatly values equality, and because of this, many locals are supportive of gay marriage. As such, most Austrians accept gay marriage, especially the younger, urban residents.

Public opinion of gay marriage in Austria

Austria greatly values equality, and because of this, locals are supportive of gay marriage. In fact, a Pew Research Center poll from 2017 found that 72% of Austrians supported same-sex marriage. As such, Austria appears to be more supportive of gay marriage than many other countries.

University of Vienna, Gay Pride
The University of Vienna, showing support for the LGBT community during Europride 2019

Austria is among the Western European countries that support gay marriage, and attitudes are similar to countries like Sweden (88%), Denmark (86%), Germany (75%), and France (73%). However, Austria is far more supportive of gay marriage than most Eastern European countries, such as Slovakia (46%), Croatia (31%), Greece (26%), and Bulgaria (18%), which don’t tend to support it.  

Religious attitudes towards gay marriage in Austria

The Catholic religion has deep roots in Austria. As a result, you might expect that the religious community would frown upon gay marriage. This is because officially, the Catholic church does not support gay marriage. However, Pope Francis – the head of the Catholic Church – seemed to recently soften the Church’s stance, alluding to his support for same-sex unions (as distinct from gay marriage) in a recent speech

Remarkably, it appears that only 26% of Austria’s Catholics oppose gay marriage, while an overwhelming 71% support it. Perhaps this, in addition to Austria’s quest for equality, explains the country’s embracing of same-sex marriages. This is similar to what is occurring in progressive religious countries such as France, Germany, Ireland, and Spain. Because of the tolerant attitude towards gay marriage in Austria, same-sex couples can choose to get married in some local Churches. That said, this is at the discretion of the particular Church. 

Getting married in Austria

Because gay marriage in Austria is treated the same as any other marriage, same-sex couples must go through the same process of registering their marriage as heterosexual couples. After this, the process of getting married is the same as it would be for any other marriage.

Applying for a marriage license in Austria

The first thing a same-sex couple will need to do is book a date for their wedding and register their marriage online or in-person through the local registry office. Generally, you should aim to do this about six weeks before the wedding. In addition, you will need to provide all the necessary documents, such as passports, birth certificates, and proof of residence. If any of the documents are not in German, they should be accompanied by verified translations by a translation service such as Lingoking.

gay couple

Additionally, the couple will have to decide on what name they will use after the wedding. As such, they will need to think about whether they will each keep their name, or choose one married name.  

Where to get married in Austria

Technically, a same-sex couple can choose to marry anywhere in Austria. However, because the country only recognizes civil unions, the couple will need to ensure that this is part of their ceremony. Additionally, the civil ceremony should be done before any religious ceremonies. In Vienna, there are eight registry offices where couples can celebrate their marriage.

Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria
Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria

However, as long as they have an official celebrant, they can also hold their wedding at many stunning venues. As such, many choose to tie the knot at places like the famous Hotel Sacher, the national library, or Belvedere Palace. Similarly, weddings can be held almost anywhere in Austria; although an authorized representative officiates the ceremony. 

Registering a same-sex partnership in Austria

In Austria, marriages are distinct from partnerships, and this applies to same-sex couples as well. As such, some couples choose to register a formal partnership rather than marry. These days, however, the legal distinctions between the two are blurring. This is because partnerships receive many of the same benefits as marriages.

To register a same-sex partnership, you will go through the same process as any other couple. First, you will have to make an appointment at a local registry office, either online or in-person. Then, you will need to present certain documents and officiate the partnership in front of two witnesses. 

lesbian wedding

In terms of each partner’s legal rights, same-sex partnerships offer many of the same benefits as marriage. For example, while most generally keep their original names, choosing a common family name is possible. In addition, couples generally live together and can choose to adopt any children from previous relationships.

Couples should also jointly contribute to their living costs. Because of this, each partner is entitled to maintenance if the union dissolves. In many cases, registered partners in Austria can also opt for tax deductions and can inherit their partner’s property. All of this has been the result of progressive legislation that Austria has passed over the last decade. 

Recognition of gay marriage by other countries

Although gay marriage in Austria is legal, this is not the case all over the world. As such, same-sex marriages formalized in Austria are not always recognized in every country. Because of this, if you choose to celebrate a same-sex wedding in Austria, you should be aware of where your union will or will not be recognized. 

Countries that do recognize gay marriages officiated in Austria

Same-sex marriages celebrated in Austria are generally recognized by most other countries that allow gay marriage. In addition, within the EU, most countries that allow gay marriage also recognize same-sex partnerships that have been registered in Austria. As such, these unions are recognized in France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the Netherlands.

Australian and LGBT flags

In addition, same-sex couples who marry in Austria can usually enjoy the same legal status in countries like Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. As such, these couples will have their unions recognized in these countries. They will also have the same rights as local gay couples. Many of these countries, such as Australia, automatically recognize foreign same-sex marriages, such as those formalized in Austria.

Countries that do not recognize gay marriage officiated in Austria

There are still many countries that don’t recognize unions between same-sex couples. As such, there are many countries in Eastern Europe that don’t recognize gay marriages that have been officiated in Austria. This includes Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. In addition, many countries ban gay marriage by secular constitution and Islamic law. This includes Russia, North Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia. As such, same-sex couples that marry in Austria will not have their unions recognized in these countries. Therefore, they will not enjoy any partnership rights, either.  

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