European nations are not legally obliged to to allow same sex marriages, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The court said that individual countries were best placed to decide on their own laws on this this issue.
Two Austrian men brought a case to the court saying their fundamental rights were breached because Austria does not recognise same sex marriage.
But the court said there was no Europe-wide consensus on the issue.
The judges said there was “an emerging European consensus” that same sex partnerships should have legal recognition, but said individual states could decide how far they went in recognising the legal status of partnerships.
There are “deep rooted social and cultural connotations which may differ largely from one society to another” the court said.
[The European Court of Human Rights is not an institution of the European Union]