Three days after Ireland voted "Yes" to gay marriage in a referendum, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert defended the moves that aim to ensure equal treatment for gay couples without granting them the right to legally wed.
"We will, in Germany, have to find our way," he told reporters.
"Non-discrimination against civil partnerships is the clear goal of government policy.
"It isn't an equalization with marriage ... Putting it on the same footing as marriage is not a goal of this government."
Germany has since 2001 allowed civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, granting many but not all the rights extended to heterosexual spouses.
Critics in particular point to gay couples still being forbidden from adopting children together in Germany.
The draft legislation includes steps such as making it easier for same-sex couples to register civil unions abroad by providing a certificate attesting that no legal impediments exist to the partnership.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a Social Democrat, acknowledged that Germany had not yet reached its goal of fully equal treatment but called the new measures another step in the right direction.
"This legal equalization must and will go further," Maas said in a statement.
His centre-left party, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right "grand coalition", calls for complete equality for same-sex couples but faces resistance from the conservatives.
The government's anti-discrimination commissioner Christine Lueders added her voice to the criticism of the measures.
"Gays and lesbians must not have the feeling here of being second-class citizens in a European comparison," national news agency DPA quoted her as saying.