How gay and lesbian couples are still facing obstacles in parenting rights

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How gay and lesbian couples are still facing obstacles in parenting rights
Photo: DPA

Despite Germany allowing same-sex couples to wed from October last year, hurdles for gay and lesbian partners regarding parental rights and the civil registry have recently emerged.


When Jakob Quirin came into the world on New Year’s Day as one of the first babies in Munich to be born in 2018, he automatically had one official biological mother by the name of Steffi S.

But in spite of Steffi S. being married to a woman named Antonia since same-sex marriages were declared legal in Germany on October 1st 2017, Antonia was not automatically declared his mother.

The reason why the baby boy doesn’t have “two officially certified mothers” is that there were errors in the implementation of the new law, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). Parental rights were not subsequently changed and the civil registry of births has not yet been established for same-sex partners across the country.

"Lawmakers have not changed the descent right with the ‘marriage for all’ law,” Peter Trunk, registrar and director of the Munich marriage office, told SZ.

Even if two women are married, only the woman who gave birth to the baby is considered the mother and has custody of it, as is stated in the Civil Code, adds Trunk.

Whereas it’s easier to become an official father of a newborn baby - either the man is married to the child’s biological mother or he acknowledges paternity, it’s more complicated when the child’s mother has a wife rather than a husband. In this case, the mother’s wife has to apply for adoption of the child for approval.

There are further challenges for gays and lesbians who were married following the implementation of the law last year. Currently only two categories exist at the civil registry for a marriage: man and woman.

"According to the authorities, I am now Mrs. Tischner," Frank Tischner told the SZ.

In December Frank Tischner married his partner Stefan Maier, both of whom have given pseudonyms for privacy purposes.

At the registry offices in Munich, the partner whose last name is further behind in the alphabet “is a woman in the system,” explains Trunk.

But the registrar doesn’t see the misnomer as a big problem, adding that regardless of the inaccuracy with the registry, the important thing is “the legal mandate is carried out” and “all couples get a perfect marriage certificate.” 

Besides, most couples take the the bureaucratic misnomer lightly, says Trunk. “When I explain to homosexual couples that only one can be recorded as a husband and one as a wife, I explain this with a smile - then a smile comes back.”

In the meantime lawmakers have been in no hurry to have the misnomer changed. 

According to Trunk, the Federal Interior Ministry must consult with all 16 of Germany’s states on the issue and nothing is likely to change until later this year in November.

READ ALSO: Berlin couple make history by becoming first husband and husband to adopt child



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