Ten years after the introduction of “registered partnerships” for same-sex couples, the Greens are calling for full marriage to be allowed, a move that would put Germany on par with countries such as Sweden, Norway, Spain and Portugal.
The spokesman on gay and lesbian issues for the parliamentary group of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, Johannes Kahrs, also spoke out on the issue, slamming the centre-right ruling coalition for the fact that homosexual couples still don't have the same rights on income tax benefits or adoption.
But the Greens have gone further, calling for full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Even if, one of these days, we have achieved the full equality of benefits for registered life partners, the discrimination will continue as long as marriage itself is not open to all couples,” said Volker Beck, the Green party's parliamentary leader.
On August 1, 2001, the then coalition government of the SPD and Greens introduced registered partnerships. About 23,000 gay couples have since formed these legal unions.
Registered partners enjoy many, though not all, benefits. Most critically, they do not get the same income tax breaks as married couples and nor can they jointly adopt. In October 2009, Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that all the rights of marriage must be extended to registered same-sex couples.
Beck accused the ruling centre-right coalition of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) of tolerating a “gross injustice.”
“Even before the end of this legislative period, the federal government will once again receive two strong slaps on the wrist from Karlsruhe,” he said.
The southwestern city of Karlsruhe is home the Constitutional Court, Germany's highest.
The SPD's Kahrs, meanwhile, stopped short of calling for full gay marriage but has demanded the government act on full tax and adoption rights. At present, the government was knowingly creating a burden for many children already living in households with same-sex partners.”
This was condemning gays, lesbians and children to the status of second-class citizens, he added.
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The Catholic Archishop of Munich meanwhile acknowledged on Thursday that the Church had made mistakes on the issue of gays and lesbians. Cardinal Reinhard Marx told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that “the Church has not always struck the right tone.”
He stressed that gays and lesbians were welcome in the Church, even if the Church's teaching was that sex should remain confined to married relationships between men and women.
“We can't simply change that. You can't pick and choose when it comes to faith and the Church.”