German minister wants equal parenting rights for married lesbian couples

Justice Minister Marco Bushman says he wants to see Germany recognise both partners in a lesbian married couple as mothers.

Two women stand together in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, on the International Day for Lesbian Visibility in 2019.
Two women stand together in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, on the International Day for Lesbian Visibility in 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

Currently in Germany there is no legal regulation on parenthood for a married female couple. It means that only the biological mother is legally recognised as a parent and her partner has to go through a formal adoption process to become the child’s second parent, even if they are married.

It is a process that can take months or even years. But that looks set to change.

“If a child is born into a marriage between a man and a woman, the man – regardless of biological paternity – is legally the father,” Federal Minister Bushman (FDP)  told Germany’s Rheinische Post and the General-Anzeiger in an interview. 

“The question is: why should this be different in a marriage between two women?”

Buschmann said the decisive factor should be “that two people take care of the child, provide love and security, and also legally stand up for the child as a community”.

He said it should therefore become the norm that in a marriage, the two mothers “are recognised as parents in the sense of joint motherhood”.

“However, we must not lose sight of the rights of the biological father,” added Buschmann. 

Buschmann’s demand is in line with what the traffic light coalition, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and FDP, set out as a goal in their coalition agreement at the end of last year.

The agreement stated: “If a child is born into the marriage of two women, both are automatically legal mothers of the child, unless otherwise agreed.”

A reform of the law of parental rights has been in the works for some time in Germany.

Having to go through an adoption procedure “is rightly perceived as discriminatory by lesbian couples”, Buschmann’s predecessor Christine Lambrecht (SPD) had said in summer 2020, adding that “a mother should not have to adopt her child”.

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

But so far, there has been no real movement on legal regulation in parenthood for a married female couple.

The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is looking for clarity on this issue. 

Last year, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Celle referred a case on the recognition of two mothers to this court.

Judges in Lower Saxony consider it unconstitutional that there is no provision for a married female couple in the paragraphs on parenthood in Germany’s Civil Code.

This issue remains unresolved even though same-sex marriages were declared legal in Germany in October 2017.

Critics said there were errors in the implementation of the new law that meant parental rights were not subsequently changed and the civil registry of births wasn’t established for same-sex partners across the country.

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Berlin mosque flies rainbow flag for pride month

A mosque in Berlin on Friday became the first in Germany to fly a rainbow flag in support of the LGBT community, ahead of two major gay pride events in the city this month.

Berlin mosque flies rainbow flag for pride month

The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque in the central Moabit neighbourhood unfurled the flag ahead of Friday prayers in front of a small crowd, including Berlin’s culture senator Klaus Lederer.

Many of those attending wore rainbow stickers that read “Love is Halal”.

The mosque, founded five years ago, is Germany’s only self-described liberal mosque and allows men and women to pray together, as well as being open to LGBT worshippers.

Mo El-Ketab, one of six Imams at the mosque, said he wanted it to provide a “safe place for people who are different, so they too can experience the spiritual side of their lives”.

“I hope that many other mosques will also show the flag in this way or set other positive signs for the LGBT community,” he said.

Two major events in support of the LGBT community will take place in Berlin this month – the Lesbian and Gay Festival on July 16th and 17th, and Christopher Street Day (CSD) on July 23rd.

Marc-Eric Lehmann, a CSD board member, said flying the flag sent “an incredibly strong sign” and it was “really important” to find a place for religion in LGBT communities.

“Queer people can also be religious and believe in God,” he said.

“We should not just be talking about safe spaces in bars and clubs in Berlin, we also have to talk about safe spaces in the places of worship.”

READ ALSO: Meet the Berlin pride co-founder continuing the fight for LGBTQ rights