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Government Wants to Increase Gay Partners' Rights

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries announced that the government would propose legislation to ensure men and women in same-sex unions the same rights as married heterosexuals, according to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Saturday. She said the bill would go to the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, for approval before the summer recess and would be fashioned so that it would not require consent from the opposition-controlled Bundesrat, the upper house, which would most likely reject it. "Gay and lesbian couples are a social reality in Germany," the paper quoted Zypries as saying. She said the governing coalition of Social Democrats and Greens had agreed that gays and lesbians should be allowed to refuse to testify in trials against their partners and to claim alimony if their partnership broke up. They would also have the same financial rights and responsibilities toward each other as married heterosexual couples and would be able to adopt each others' children. But the general ban on homosexuals adopting children would remain in place.