Zypries demands constitutional amendment for gay rights

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25 Jun, 2009 Updated Thu 25 Jun 2009 11:43 CEST
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Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries says she wants to change the German constitution to include equal rights for gay people but is being blocked by conservatives in the government.

Speaking ahead of this Saturday’s Christopher Street Day in Berlin, Zypries said she would like to change the Basic Law in two places.

This would include amending Article 3, which sets out equality before the law, to include sexual identity in the list of characteristics over which it is unconstitutional to discriminate against someone. Article 6 which protects marriages, families and illegitimate children, would also be changed, to include civil partnerships.

When asked why she had not already put forward the changes, Zypries told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “We already hit up against hefty opposition within the coalition when we were making relatively small changes… for same-sex couples. It was very difficult to have a factual or sensible discussion with the [conservative] Union on the topic of life partnerships.”

She said that the distribution of seats in both houses of parliament meant that there was little hope of getting the two-thirds majority vote needed to change the constitution.

“All attempts which even have just a hint of improving the situation, or even equality, have been blocked by the Union. That is practically a reflex.”

She said she would continue her quest to try to change the constitution, arguing that although other, more minor measures were possible to pass with straight-forward laws which do not need to pass the two-thirds majority hurdle, a constitutional change would be more far-reaching.

“First of all a constitutional amendment would be a clear social signal. Above all though, it would make it more difficult for the Union to protect and maintain the unfair treatment which is contained in current more simple laws,” she said. “If the constitution was changed, a simple legal equality would not be able to be stopped. Because then the constitution would support equality and other laws would have to fit with that.”



2009/06/25 11:43

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