German politicians push for gay marriage

family law

Politicians in Germany have pledged to push for the legalisation of gay marriage.

The Social Democratic Party, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), are junior partners in the current coalition government alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU). Speaking to Der Spiegel magazine, SPD leader Thomas Oppermann said his party would raise the issue of same sex marriage the next time the coalition meets. He also said he would seek to provide compensation to people who faced criminal charges during the time when homosexuality was illegal, a law that was in effect until 1969.

Family Minister and SPD member Manuela Schwesig said it was “time for the conservatives to move on this issue” and implored the CDU to “stop putting the brakes on modernization”.

These plans have been welcomed by the country’s Green Party. However, leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt claimed her party would seek a public debate on the issue because Germany had “seen nothing but hot air from the conservatives and the SPD” for years.

Germany has the highest level of support for gay marriage among countries where it is not yet legal. In January a survey by the German Anti-Discrimination Agency, Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes, found that 83 per cent believed same sex couples should have an equal right to marry.

Despite this popularity, Merkel’s CDU has always been resistant to full marriage equality. However, Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn is openly gay and wants to adopt children with his partner. He told a national newspaper that “unfortunately my party is conservative in the wrong way” on the question of gay marriage.

The practice is now legal in thirteen countries across Europe including Britain, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal and the Netherlands. Gay marriage was also legalised in France, although far-right Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has pledged to undo this if she is elected later this year.

Photo of the Reichstag Building, home of the German Parliament, by Herman via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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