Germany registers 6,000 gay couples under 2001 law

July 29, 2004

BERLIN — Local authorities in Germany have registered some 6,000 gay unions under ground-breaking legislation that went into effect three years ago recognising homosexual partnerships, the government announced Wednesday.

The announcement came amid moves by the country's centre-left coalition government to expand gay rights to permit gay partners to adopt each other's children.

That legislation is expected to be enacted by the end of the year without having to be ratified by the Bundesrat upper house of parliament which is controlled by conservatives who oppose the bill.

The number of registered gay unions has declined in recent months pending passage of the new legislation, a spokesman said.

Germany's gay partnerships law went into effect on August 1, 2001, granting homosexual couples some limited rights regarding hospital visitation and joint property ownership but stopping short of granting them tax breaks enjoyed by conventionally married couples.

Wednesday's announcement comes amid a new debate about gay rights spawned by the coming-out last week of the head of a major national political party.

Free Democratic Party (FDP) head Guido Westerwelle, widely tipped to be Germany's foreign minister in a centre-right coalition government with the Christian Democrats, last week acknowledged his homosexuality.

Westerwelle called for even broader gay rights, including the right for gay couples to adopt children who are not the offspring of their partners. – Sapa-dpa

Related stories
German FDP head confirms homosexuality, calls for gay rights [26/07/2004]



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