The Austrian Parliament approved a bill Thursday that recognizes gay and lesbian relationships, the AP reported.

The new law creates a separate legal framework for gay couples that includes many of the benefits and obligations of marriage, including pension rights and alimony payments in the event of a split. But the law also bans gay couples from adoption or artificial insemination. Austrian media called the new union “marriage light.”

The law will take effect on January 1.

Gay activists urged lawmakers to vote in favor of the legislation, despite its limitations. The liberal Greens Party argued the bill discriminated against gay couples and violated EU anti-discrimination policy.

Opponents of the measure include the right-wing Freedom Party, which rejected the bill outright.

Herbert Kickler, secretary general of the Freedom Party, called the bill a “crusade against families,” while Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache said it “undermined marriage.”

Proponents of the measure called it “the first step in the right direction.”

Many western European countries recognize the relationships of gay couples, including full marriage in Sweden and Spain and civil partnerships in England.