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Government Aims to Grant Gay Couples More Rights

The German cabinet has approved amendments introduced by Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries to the partnership law of 2001 that introduced "gay marriage" to Germany. If the amendments are passed by parliament, gay and lesbian "registered couples" will enjoy most of the same rights and responsibilities heterosexual spouses do, including pension rights and financial support responsibilities in the event of separation. The governing Social Democratic-Green coalition wants to introduce gay engagements, which would allow one partner to refuse to testify against the other in court. The bill will also allow homosexuals to adopt the biological child of their partner, if the other biological parent consents. However, general adoptions will continue to be banned. The changes in adoption law have met with strong opposition from conservative parties. However, the bill does not need approval from the upper house of parliament, where the conservatives have a majority. The first reading in front of the lower house takes place on Friday.