• Germany's news in English

Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights

Emma Anderson · 30 Apr 2015, 08:39

Published: 30 Apr 2015 08:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Apr 2015 08:39 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
1. Gay marriage is still not legal
A civil union in Germany. Photo: DPA.

Same-sex couples may enter into a civil union, which entails many of the same rights as a heterosexual marriage, but many rights have been won within individual court cases rather than by top-down legislation.

This makes Germany stand out when compared to its western European allies who have passed same-sex marriage legislation, like France and the United Kingdom.

Most of Germany’s border states have also legalized gay marriage, such as the Netherlands which passed same-sex marriage legislation nearly 15 years ago, making it the first country in the world to do so.

2. Raising a kid together can be tricky

Photo: Shutterstock.

Germany has allowed stepchild adoption among same-sex partners since 2005, meaning if one person already has a biological child, the other partner may adopt the child, but the two may not adopt a child together.

Since a 2013 constitutional court ruling, same-sex partners may also adopt a child after their partner has already adopted the child, in what is called ‘successive adoption’. Still, many have criticized the court decision because it means that couples still cannot jointly adopt.

Again, Germany falls behind in this regard. The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland all allow same-sex couples to adopt children together.

3. Politicians may be less tolerant than the public

While polls have shown the German public to be quite tolerant of homosexuality, gay marriage proponents have harshly criticized the two major conservative parties in the Bundestag (German parliament) for being resistant to legalization.

One Green party politician recently said the parties had fallen behind mainstream public opinion.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) have continued to block same-sex marriage bills proposed by opposition parties.

Merkel once told Bild newspaper that she did not favour giving gay couples the same tax rights as heterosexual ones because the constitution "sees marriage directly linked to the family and both are under the special protection of the state".

But Germany actually came in second, just behind Spain, in the most recent Pew Research Center study in 2013 on tolerance of homosexuality, with 87 percent of respondents saying they agreed that homosexuality should be accepted in society.

Only 60 percent of US respondents said "yes" to the same statement.

In another study released earlier this month, the United States was rated slightly more tolerant towards LGBT people than Germany.

In Germany, 70 percent of respondents answered “yes” to the question: 'Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for gay or lesbian people? Seventy-one percent of American respondents said “yes”.'

This placed Germany at 16th place for LGBT tolerance worldwide.

4. Gender “X” and transgender rightsPhoto: Shutterstock.

Germany became one of the first countries in the world in 2013 to provide a third gender option when parents first fill out a birth certificate for their intersex child. Before, parents had to decide within a week of birth whether their child was male or female and to register them as such.

Still, the third box “X”, alongside male and female, is not an officially recognized third gender and is instead intended specifically for intesex-born children or hermaphrodites - people born with gender-indeterminate bodies. The state expects them to ultimately live their lives as male or female in the future.

Up until as recently as 2011, people seeking to legally change their sex needed to show that they had undergone surgery to become infertile as well as to make them look significantly like the sex with which they identify.

Though such surgery is no longer required, people must still show proof of a medical diagnosis and have lived for at least three years as their identified sex.

5. Donating blood is bannedPhoto: DPA.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced a major decision in December to reverse its lifetime ban on gay men donating blood due to advanced screening methods, though men who have had sex with another man in the past 12 months will still be barred from donating.

In Germany men who have sex with other men are still indefinitely banned from donating blood, though the German Medical Association has called for the policies to be changed. Some federal states have also called for a lifting of the ban.

But a European Court of Justice ruling on Wednesday may offer an opportunity for change. The court said that a ban is only justified if there are no other available screening methods to protect blood recipients.

Germany's Lesbian and Gay Assosiation said in a statement that the ruling implies that a general ban on gay men is unjustified.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd