Germany’s federal parliament has voted by a wide margin to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Bundestag voted by 393 to 226 on Friday (30 June) to give full marital rights to homosexual couples and allow them to adopt children.
The vote came after Chancellor Angela Merkel changed her mind and said members of her ruling conservative CDU/CSU bloc should follow their personal conscience rather than the party line.
Merkel, who will seek a fourth term in the national election in September, told reporters after the landmark decision that she had voted against the measure because she believed that marriage as defined under German law was between a man and a woman. But she said her decision was a personal one, adding that she had become convinced in recent years that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.
In a move that surprised Germans and her own centre-right party, CDU, the chancellor had reversed her long-standing opposition to same-sex marriages in a gathering with readers of women’s magazine Brigitte on Monday. The change of mind, which political analysts say is for electoral reasons, angered some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.
While Germany was one of the first European countries to legalise same-sex partnerships in 2001, Merkel’s CDU has repeatedly refused to grant equal rights to same-sex unions, for fear of upsetting the party’s staunchly conservative wing, as well as its Bavarian partner, the CSU.
The measure will likely be signed into law by the president sometime after 7 July.
Many other European countries, including France, Britain and Spain, have already legalised same-sex marriage.
According to a recent poll by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, 83 per cent of respondents in Germany support same-sex marriage.
Vivian Asamoah with agency reports