Austria’s parliament passed legislation Thursday allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, a move hailed by proponents as a historic win for gay rights in the country.
The bill, slated to become law Jan. 1, will give same-sex couples many of the rights enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, including access to a pension if one partner dies and alimony in the event of a split.
“We are living in the 21st century and I’m very glad this step is being taken today,” Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner said during parliamentary debate leading up to the vote.
Christian Hoegl, co-president of the Homosexual Initiative Vienna, Austria’s oldest group of gays and lesbians, agreed.
“It’s a relief, a big success and a reward for two decades of lobbying,” Hoegl said.
Earlier in the day, Hoegl and co-president Jona Solomon passed out pink rum-filled cupcakes to parliamentarians, along with a letter that urged them to vote yes.
The legislation — considered a compromise between the governing coalition — did not pass unanimously. In the end, of the 174 lawmakers who cast ballots, 110 voted in favor of the bill, and 64 voted against it.