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Software blocks gay marriage registration in Germany

Alistair Walsh with dpa
August 29, 2017

The rapid approval of gay marriage in Germany has left its computer systems lagging behind. The work-around means bureaucrats have to enter false information regarding the gender of one of the spouses.

An unidentified couple kisses after a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag voted on legalising same-sex marriage, in Berlin
Image: REUTERS/F. Bensch

Germany's bureaucratic computer systems will be unable to cope with the legalization of same-sex marriage in Germany, Berlin authorities announced on Monday.

When the new same-sex marriage law takes effect on October 1, registry systems will not allow bureaucrats to enter two people of the same gender into one marriage, German news agency DPA and daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, reported.

Same-sex marriage was spontaneously legalized in Germany in July, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed members of her ruling Christian Democratic party (CDU) to vote according to their conscience. The CDU had previoulsy opposed the granting of full marriage rights for all.

Read more: The long path toward same-sex marriage in Germany

A bill was signed into law within days of Merkel changing her party policy, but it seems the administrative institutions that register marriages were unable to keep up.

The problem was previously thought to be contained to registry offices in the state of Berlin, but the Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday that the issue was nationwide.

It will take more than a year to update the software to allow two people of the same gender to be registered in one marriage. Until that date, bureaucrats will be forced to enter the incorrect gender for one of the people getting married.

Read more: Why it's so hard to get married in Berlin

The ministry said software developers were normally given a nine-month headstart on such policy changes.

The lack of progress was condemned by the Berlin arm of the Lesbian and Gay Federation, the largest LGBT rights organization in the country.

"It is embarrassing that in the 21st century, a small adjustment would create such problems," said spokesman Jörg Steinert.

Registry authorities in Berlin have been warning of long delays when the new law takes effect.

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