Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed on Wednesday to make small changes to same-sex civil partnership rules but staunch opposition from conservatives in her party means Germany will not follow Ireland in allowing same-sex marriages any time soon.
Although there are growing divisions within the party, Merkel’s Christian Democrats are still overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriages partly due to fears it could upset voters on the right.
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However, polls show 75 percent of Germans are in favor of legalizing gay marriages, as are the Social Democrats (SPD) and all opposition parties.
Merkel’s cabinet gave same-sex couples more rights but this move was dismissed by critics as inadequate for a country that in 2001 became one of Europe’s first to allow registered civil partnerships.
The overwhelming “yes” vote in Ireland for same-sex marriage had triggered a discussion in Germany about the lingering gap in rights between registered partnerships and marriages.
“Today was an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “But same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government.”