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Germany grants gay couples more rights, still refuses equal marriage

New law doesn't give same-sex couples full rights to adopt, introduces mostly editorial changes to existing laws

Germany grants gay couples more rights, still refuses equal marriage
Wikimedia / Thomas Koch
The Bundestag debated the new law for more than a year.

The German government has granted same-sex couples more rights – but they still refuse to legalize gay marriage.

In the second and third reading, held on Thursday in the Bundestag, the coalition government of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) passed the so-called law for the adjustment of rights of life partners which as been debated for over a year.

The law grants same-sex couples equal rights in regards to more than 20 other laws, including rental law and the code of civil procedure – but most of the changes brought on by the decision are editorial changes, aiming to prevent discrimination in legislative texts.

It does not grant same-sex couples full adoption rights.

During the 30-minute debate on the new law, delegates focused their discussion on marriage equality with SPD member Susanne Rüthrich saying she hoped they would only witness the debate twice more: during the first reading and the passage of a marriage equality bill.

Sabine Sütterlin-Waack, member of the CDU, said the German constitution put special protection on marriage and a simple change in law would not be enough to introduce same-sex marriage – instead, it would need a majority vote of 66% in both chambers to be passed.

She was backed up by her colleague Alexander Hoffman from the party’s Bavarian branch, who called the adjustment law ‘a new chapter of equality’, claiming marriage was not the be all and end all.

He pointed to countries like Brazil which have equal marriage, but also high numbers of murders of homosexual people, before saying Germany had an anti-discrimination law.

During Thursday’s debate, the coalition rejected motions by the Left Party as well as the Green Party, which would have seen the Bundestag demand the government open marriage to same-sex couples.

Parliament also did not discuss any concrete laws proposed by the opposition and the Bundesrat (Federal Assembly), the upper house of the German government, which would create marriage equality in the federal republic.

In a press statement Volker Beck, openly gay delegate representing the Green Party, accused the government of ‘pushing back marriage equality until the cows come home’.


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