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GAY RIGHTS

Berlin conservatives say ‘no’ to gay marriage

Members of the Berlin faction of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voted against gay marriage in a poll on Friday, denting hopes the Chancellor’s staunch opposition could be swayed.

Berlin conservatives say 'no' to gay marriage
A gay rights demonstration with signs saying "marriage for all" in front of the Bundesrat (upper house of parliament) in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The Berlin faction of the CDU announced on Friday that 45 percent of its members voted against gay marriage while 35 percent voted in support in a survey, newspaper Tagesspiegel reported.

The survey was conducted over the past three weeks, asking members whether they would support gay marriage in Germany.

About 40 percent of the CDU's roughly 12,500 members sent in their votes.

While same-sex couples in Germany may enter into legal unions, they do not have the same rights as heterosexual married couples, such as the ability to adopt children together.

The recent passage of same-sex marriage in Ireland and a US Supreme Court decision in favour of gay marriage has put more pressure on Merkel and her conservative Union (CDU and Christian Social Union parties), who have long opposed full equality for same-sex couples.

Sticking to traditional views of marriage is one of the last bastions of conservative values held onto by the Union after the abolition of conscription.

The CDU has continued to block requests for equal rights for same-sex couples by its coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the Bundestag (German parliament).

Merkel has expressed her opposition to full gay marriage rights time and again,reiterating these views in a recent interview with YouTube star Lefloid.

“For me, personally, marriage is the coexistence between a man and a woman,” she told Lefloid. “But wherever we still see discrimination, we will challenge it further.”

A magazine ad poking fun at the Chancellor’s stance went viral this week as it placed a Merkel lookalike in a lesbian relationship.

Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, voted last month to pass a resolution calling for full marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, but the vote did not constitute any form of legislation.

Some had hoped that if the Berlin CDU voted ‘yes’ on Friday, it could help to sway the Chancellor’s position towards further gay rights. The faction said a ‘yes’ vote would have prompted them to put in a request to the party at the national level.

Berlin CDU General Secretary, Kai Wegner, had seemed excited about the vote before the results came in on Friday, saying in the morning that “we are the first state group to do something like this”.

The faction leader opened one of the envelopes containing a member’s vote to show journalists before the results were finalized on Friday, reading the result aloud.

“A male, age 30, from Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: I strongly disagree,” Wegner read to the reporters. “Oh, that could be a bad omen.”

 

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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel condemns Hungary’s LGBTQ law as ‘wrong’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised a new law in Hungary banning LGBTQ educational content for children as "wrong" as a European row on the measure hotted up.

Merkel condemns Hungary's LGBTQ law as 'wrong'
Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in the Bundestag on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Schröder

“I consider this law to be wrong and incompatible with my understanding of politics,” Merkel said on Wednesday in response to a query from a far-right lawmaker at government question time in parliament.

The German leader said she saw it as a contradiction that “single-sex partnerships are allowed” in Hungary “but education about them is restricted”.

“That impacts freedom of education and such matters and is something I oppose politically,” she said.

It was likely Merkel’s final question and answer session in the Bundestag before she steps down at the federal election in September. 

Merkel was also quizzed on Germany’s Covid management where she reiterated that the pandemic “is not over yet”.

Rainbow flags across Germany

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has condemned the Hungarian law as a “shame” that went against EU values, saying it “clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation”.

READ ALSO: Germany turns rainbow-coloured in protest at UEFA stadium ban

She said the Commission would raise legal concerns over the law with Budapest, and added: “I will use all the powers of the commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed whoever you are, and wherever you live.”

Merkel declined to be drawn on the Commission’s plans against Budapest, or on a disputed decision by UEFA refusing to allow the Munich stadium hosting Wednesday’s Germany-Hungary Euro 2020 match to light up in rainbow colours.

READ ALSO: UEFA refuses to light Munich stadium in rainbow colours for Germany-Hungary match

Munich city authorities had planned the display to “send a visible sign of solidarity” with Hungary’s LGBTQ community.

Fifteen of the EU’s member states have signed up to voice their “grave concern” at the LGBTQ law that Budapest argues will protect children.

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