Germany proposes futher rights for gay couples

June 07, 2004

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries
Photo - AFP
BERLIN — Germany is considering extending more rights to gay couples, three years after first recognizing same-sex partnerships, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said in a weekend newspaper interview.

"Lesbian and gay couples are a social reality in Germany," Zypries told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

"That is why we also want to grant them, to the extent it complies with the constitution and its unique protections of marriage and family, the same rights as married couples."

Zypries, a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, said that the center-left government planned to expand the 2001 legislation that gave homosexual couples the chance to register their partnerships and receive some of the rights and privileges of marriage.

"Just as with failed marriages, lesbians and gays would have to financially support their former partners if they separate," Zypries said of the proposed draft law.

She said the bill, to be presented to parliament by the ruling coalition parties later this year, would also ensure inheritance rights for surviving partners and allow gays to adopt the biological children of their partners.

Volker Beck, the legal affairs spokesman of the Greens, the junior party in the governing coalition, said the bill would not have to pass the Bundesrat upper house of parliament, where the conservative Christian Union parties hold a majority.

He said the government also aimed to present before the end of the year an additional draft law, subject to Bundesrat approval, granting tax benefits to gay couples in a registered partnership.

The announcements came as the center-right government in neighboring France vowed to keep gay partnerships restricted to a civil contract known as PACS that took effect in 1999, which confers some but not all the rights of a marriage, after a renegade mayor presided over the country's first gay wedding. – Sapa-AFP

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