• Germany's news in English
 

Coalition split on equal rights for gay couples

Published: 26 Aug 2012 16:10 GMT+02:00

While junior coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP) are in favour of full equality in both spheres, the issue is far less appealing to many members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

While the tax issue has supporters and opponents within Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the question of adoption rights remains deeply unpopular.

Yet in an interview with the Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, the FDP Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the government should not wait for the country’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to make a ruling on the subject.

She instead pleaded for the government to introduce a right to adopt for homosexual couples, as well as equality in the tax system for same-sex couples, as for husbands and wives.

"Whoever takes on duties should also receive rights," she said, regarding the existing differences.

"We should not wait for a decision by the Constitutional Court. Karlsruhe has recently, repeatedly made clear that civil partnerships should not be discriminated against through the privilege afforded to marriages between husband and wife."

The Court is expected to rule in the next year on a complaint of discrimination. The German tax system practice of "splitting" means that husbands and wives pay their tax on a joint basis, giving rise to big advantages where there is a big difference between salaries. This arrangement does not apply to gay and lesbian couples.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said a bill now being considered should take care of these matters. "We have had registered same-sex partnerships for 10 years now," she said. "This has legal consequences that that the draft bill put before me should regulate."

CSU general secretary Alexander Dobrindt told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that extending equal tax rights to same-sex couples was "out of the question" and that the privileges for married couples had a "particular value" to his party.

Gerda Hasselfeldt, the CSU parliamentary leader, said her party would never support adoption rights for gay couples - and accused the FDP of using piecemeal tactics to try to gain concessions.

"They have been bringing piecemeal suggestions again and again about equality of civil partnerships with marriage, something that is neither part of the bedrock or aims of the coalition," said Hasselfeldt.

The current draft bill would mean that the word "spouse" would be replaced by "civil partner" in many existing laws such as on foreclosure and debt laws.

Katherina Reiche, state secretary in the environment ministry for the CDU caused a storm last week when talking about her opposition to extending tax privileges to gay couples. She said Germany’s future lay “in the hands of families, not in same-sex partnerships.”

And she added that in her opinion, what she called “this demographic development” was “next to the euro crisis, the biggest threat to German prosperity.”

Reiche was soon the target for hefty criticism, accusing her of homophobia and narrow-mindedness.

DPA/The Local/rc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany's AfD heads right with new leader
Frauke Petry, the new leader of the AfD. Photo: Lukas Schulze/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ousted its co-founder and frontman Bernd Lucke on Saturday to elect a new leader from its right wing, signalling a shift in focus to immigration from its anti-euro origins. READ  

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

Greece crisis
'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble
A poster of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Athens reads "For five years he has sucked your blood. Now tell him NO." Photo: DPA

'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble

UPDATE: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday that there would be no quick release of bailout funds to Greece after the country's referendum on whether to accept its creditors' terms on Sunday. READ  

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp
The new Deutsche Post stamp showing the Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp

Pro-Tibet activists have created a new limited-edition stamp featuring the Dalai Lama to mark the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday. READ  

Women's World Cup
'Germany will crack England': top coach
Star striker Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

'Germany will crack England': top coach

The manager of European champions FFC Frankfurt told The Local he expects Germany to beat England in the third place play-off in the Women's World Cup, and predicted his protege Celia Sasic will grab a goal or two. READ  

NSA surveillance scandal
Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-profile German victim of NSA spying, speaking on the phone. Photo: DPA

Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations. READ  

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick. Photo: DPA file

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds

Germany's top beach volleyball pair are storming the world championships in Holland and prepare to face Brazil in the semis on Friday. READ  

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Photo: DPA

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks loosed a broadside against her cabinet colleagues on Friday in a guest article for Die Welt, saying that they had decided to do too little to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a way that would cost too much. READ  

Greece crisis
BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'
Image: BILD/screenshot

BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'

Tabloid Bild continued its campaign against bailouts for Greece on Friday by calling its own "referendum", asking readers to fill out a poll on whether Germany should keep stumping up. German politicians were divided on how the Greek vote would affect Europe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,940
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd