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Germany's Basic Law document
As Germany celebrates its 60th birthday, calls come for a constitutional changeImage: dpa - Fotoreport

60 years of Basic Law

May 22, 2009

To coincide with the 60th anniversary of Germany's constitution, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has called for fundamental changes regarding the rights of same-sex partnerships in the country.

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In an article in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Zypries has called for improvements to the laws governing the rights for people in homosexual partnerships as well as removing the "dubious" differences in the constitution that exist between German and non-German residents.

The Social Democrat wants all Germans to have the same voting rights, a measure she says will lead to an increase in legal clarity and will stand as a symbol for integration.

Sexual can of worms

In a further initiative, which is bound to cause hefty debate not only with the church but also with her party's conservative coalition partners, the CDU and CSU, Zypries is calling for equality for homosexual and heterosexual partnerships.

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries
Justice Minister Zypries is striving for equalityImage: AP

“The constitution should be changed because life partners should be given the same respect and recognition as married partners… homosexual and heterosexual couples should be equal,” she said in the FAZ.

Zypries has also received support from the Green Party in her backing of same-sex couples.

The CDU and CSU, however, insist that a clear difference between heterosexual and homosexual partnerships should remain. This gibes with the German constitution, which states in Article Six: "Marriage and family stand under the special protection of the state system."

"Temporary" constitution

The constitution, or Basic Law, was formally adopted by a parliamentary council, chaired by Konrad Adenauer, on May 23, 1949. Adenauer later became West Germany's first chancellor.

Konrad Adenauer sgns the Basic Law
Adenauer signed the Basic Law on May 23, 1949Image: picture-alliance/ dpa

It was intended as a "temporary" framework for a new democratic system, but, as time passed, it proved to be a working foundation for the Federal Republic of Germany.

In 1990, following reunification, the Basic Law became valid for the whole nation. The classic freedoms embodied in the Basic Law are that of religion, speech and press as well as the right to conscientious objection. Equality is also guaranteed.

Democratic prototype

The president of the German Constitutional Court, Hans-Juergen Papier, in an interview with the daily Bild praised the Basic Law as “the best constitution that Germany has ever had," adding that its importance lies in its “clarity, concision and engagement," qualities which has made it an archetype for many other countries.

On Friday, the German government is set to commence 60th anniversary celebrations of the German constitution in the capital Berlin.

td/AP/dpa
Editor: Nick Amies

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