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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc.

Activities in other countries:
Germany, Hungary, Iceland, & Luxemburg

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See elsewhere in this web site for information about same-sex marriages,
civil unions, etc. in the United States and the rest of the world

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Germany:

  • 2001: The German Parliament passed a law recognized same-sex civil unions. Couples may take each other's names, must support each other financially, and may divorce and request alimony from their partner.

  • 2003-JUL: Germany's Supreme Court upheld the country's civil union law which gives some of the benefits of marriage to registered same-sex couples. German Cardinal Karl Lehman of the Roman Catholic Church condemned this decision in a Vatican Radio interview. He said the law is:

    "... a hard blow to marriage and the family. Now the associations of homosexuals have a potent arm to obtain further concessions on the road toward full equality with married couples, including the right to adoption." 1  

  • 2004-OCT-29: The Cardinal's prediction came true. The German parliament voted to extend additional rights to same-sex couples that opposite-sex couples have always enjoyed: They are not compelled to testify against each other in court. Widows and widowers can obtain a state pension. They can adopt the biological children of their spouses. The bill was supported by the ruling Social Democrats and the Greens, and some liberal Free Democrats, but opposed by conservative parties. Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said:

    "Same-sex partnerships are a reality in Germany. But gays and lesbians are still not treated equally in how they are able to live their lives, and there is no reason for that."

    About 5,000 civil unions had been registered since they first became available in 2001. About 8,000 children were being raised by same-sex couples. 2

  • 2012: Angela Merkel had been serving as the Chancellor of Germany since 2005, and heads the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). A group of gay CDU members of parliament formed the "wild thirteen" group to promote marriage equality. 17 They were unsuccessful, but helped keep the topic alive and before the public.

  • 2013: At a townhall meeting, Chancellor Merkel indicated why she was opposed to same-sex marriage. She said:

    "I'll be honest, I have a hard time with total [marriage] equality. ... I am uncertain about children's well-being for instance." 17

    Webmaster's note:

    Her statement is unclear to me. If children are being raised by two parents of the same sex, I cannot see what difference it makes to the quality of the children's upbringing whether the parents are married or in a civil union. It makes a great deal of difference to most same-sex couples because it gives them status as being married, and gives them a full set of marital rights; whereas many people do not know what a civil union involves.

  • 2017-JUN: Polls indicated that an overwhelming percentage -- 83% -- of German adults support same-sex marriage. 18 This is a higher percentage than in the U.S. where support is about about 63% and is slightly lower than the value in the Netherlands where a 2013 Ifop poll found 85% of Dutch adults favored marriage equality. 20

    Angela Merkel, has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and is the longest-serving national leader in the European Union.

    The main political parties in Germany are:

    • Angela Merkel's center-right party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) was opposed to marriage equality. The CDU is active in 15 of the 16 German states -- all except Bavaria. Merkel, has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and is the longest-serving national leader in the European Union.

    • The Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) a conservative Christian democratic party only in the state of Bavaria.

    • The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a right wing party, which is opposed to both marriage equality and immigration.

    • The Social Democratic Party (SPD), Greens, and Free Democrats (FDP) form the liberal wing All three support marriage equality. They recently pledged that they would not enter any government coalition that did not promise to hold a vote on same-sex marriage.

Germany is currently ruled by a coalition of the SPD, CDU and CSU.The next round of federal elections will be held in 2017-SEP, and the CDU is not expected to obtain a majority of seats. Thus,Merkel will need to organize another coalition with at least one other party to run the government.

Thomas Oppermann, the head of the SPD in Parliament, announced that he planned to add a discussion of marriage equality to the next meeting of the coalition. He said:

    "Everyone's talking about preserving our values these days. That shouldn't just be a talking point in grant speeches, but rather a part of actual policies. Among these values are not only the protection of marriage and family, but also equal rights for different kinds of relationships."

Chancellor Merkel injected some energy into the re-election and assured her ability to form a future coalition by calling for a free vote on marriage equality in the Bundestag -- the German lower House of Parliament. Thomas Oppermann of the SPD opened the floor debate, saying:

    "If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish. If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away."

Members of the Bundestag approved the measure by a vote of 393 to 226 with four abstensions on 2017-JUN-30. Chancellor Merkel personally voted against the motion, but many of her party voted in favor. 19

Webmaster's comment: While nobody will lose any rights as a result of marriage equality, the approximately 10% of the adult population who oppose same-sex marriage will probably feel uncomfortable that the LGBT community has attainied marriage rights equal to theirs.

Chancellor Merkel said:

    "I hope that with today’s vote, not only that mutual respect is there between the individual positions, but also that an amount of social peace and togetherness can be created."

Arnd Bächler, a counselor at the gay counseling center in Berlin said:

    "It’s very positive for the self-esteem of gays and lesbians; it’s very important for people coming out, knowing that they have this equality; and it sends a clear message to any homophobic refugees coming to Germany: We have equality here."

A very large number of refugees have entered Germany recently, escaping from violence in their predominately Muslim countries. Islam generally condemns same-gender sexual behavior.

Christine Lüders, the director of the German government’s anti-discrimination agency, said that the bill was:

"... not about special rights for anyone, but about equal rights. I am certain that just a few years from now, as a society, we will look back on this decision on marriage equality and ask ourselves, 'Why on earth did it take us so long'?"

Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director at ILGA-Europe -- a gay and transgender rights group -- said that developments in Germany might inspire similar legislation in other German-speaking countries, like Austria and Switzerland. She said:

"For us, the most important lesson is for the opposition to be very outspoken in supporting L.G.B.T.I. rights, The Social Democrats’ and the Greens’ making it a coalition condition raised the pressure on the conservatives, so it’s very important that those in favor across Europe make it a condition, and be very strong in their support." 21

If the experience in the U.S. is replicated in Germany, then the suicide rate among those in the LGBT community will drop noticably.

Germany has now joined many other countries in Europe by allowing gay marriage, including Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portual, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and Wales.

Germany's law includes the right to adopt children. Couples will be able to marry sometime in the Fall of 2017. However, there may be a court challenge to the new law because the German Constitution defines marriage as between one woman and one man. A future amendment to the Constitution may become necessary.

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Hungary:

The parliament passed legislation in 2007 that would allow unmarried opposite-sex or same-sex couples to register their union beginning on 2009-JAN-01. This would have given the registering couples almost the same rights and protections as have been enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

The Constitutional Court annulled the law on 2008-DEC-15, stating that it "downgraded" the institution of marriage.

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Iceland:

  • 2008-JUN-27: The government amended the marriage act to allow churches to validate the relationships of same-sex couples. The law became effective on JUL-02.

  • 2008-JUL-02: Katrín Thóra Vídisdóttir and Erla Björk Pálmadóttir became the first same-sex couple to have their relationships officially blessed by the church. Rev. Sigurdur Grétar Sigurdsson in Hvammstangi performed the ritual. During an interview, Thóra Vídisdóttir said:

    "... finally, gay people are accepted by the church. It means that now people are accepting us just the way we are. They are accepting the fact that we have feelings too, and we can love just as much as everyone else. And there’s nothing wrong about it. We are people too and should have all the same rights as every other person in the world. Happily ever after, you know?" 23

  • 2009-FEB-02: The Social Democratic Alliance Party in Iceland chose Johanna Sigurdardottir, the former social affairs minister, to lead the Government. She thus became the world's first openly lesbian head of state: She is in a three decade long same-sex relationship with prominent writer Honina Leosdottir. 3

  • 2010-JUN-12: The Icelandic Parliament voted unanimously (49 to 0) to change the country's marriage laws to include unions between "man and man" and "woman and woman" in addition to opposite-sex unions. The law states that clergy will be ... free to perform [same-sex] marriage ceremonies, but will never be obliged to." 4

    Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland said: "The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic. ... (same-sex marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial." 5

    The main religious group in Ireland is the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It decided to bless existing relationships but not actually marry same-sex couples in its churches.

  • Sunday, 2010-JUN-27 was the first day that same-sex marriages became available in the country. Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir and Honina Leosdottir were married. 22

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Ireland:

Information on SSM in Ireland has been moved to a separate essay.

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Luxembourg:

Same-sex couples were able to marry in this country effective 2015-JAN-01.

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Victor Simpson, "Vatican seeks to stop move toward same-sex unions," Associated Press, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  2. Tisha Steyn, "Germany extends gay rights," News24.com, at: http://www.news24.com/
  3. "Lesbian in Charge," Star Observer, Australia, 2009-FEB-04, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au
  4. "Iceland legalizes same-sex marriage," Star Observer, Australia, 42010-JUN-26, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au/
  5. "Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote," Reuters, 2010-JUN-11, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  6. Andrea Botha, "Irish Ruling on gay marriage," 2004-SEP-11, News24.com, at: http://www.news24.com/
  7. Liam Reid and Joe Humphreys, "Gay marriage under focus in review of family rights," The Irish Times, 2004-OCT-18, at: http://www.ireland.com/
  8. "Mexico City legalizes same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-22, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  9. "Mexico's Supreme Court Declares Anti-Gay Marriage Law Unconstitutional ," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  10. Marya Hannun, "For a lesson on marriage equality, look to Mexico (which looked to the U.S.)," Foreign Policy, 2013-MAR-29, at: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/
  11. E. Eduardo Castillo, "Experts: Mexico ruling opens door to gay marriage," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  12. Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Ireland to hold referendum on equal marriage in 2014," Pink News, 2013-JUN-24, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  13. "," 2007-FEB-23, RT News, at: http://www.rte.ie/
  14. "Marriage v Civil Partnership FAQs," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/
  15. "Millward Brown (Lansdowne) Polling Highlights 2012," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/
  16. "Countdown to KAL," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/
  17. "The long path toward same-sex marriage in Germany," Deutsche Welle, 2017-JUN-27, at: http://www.dw.com/
  18. "Merkel's conservatives under pressure to allow gay marriage," Deutsche Welle, 2017-JUN-03, at: http://www.dw.com/
  19. "In a nod to Angela Merkel’s political genius, Germany votes “yes” to gay marriage," Quartz Media, 2017-JUN-30, at: https://qz.com/
  20. "Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands," Wikiepedia as on 2017-MAY-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  21. "Alison Smale & David Shimer,"German Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage," New York Times, 2017-JUN-30, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  22. "Iceland PM weds as gay marriage legalised," The Telegraph, 2010-JUN-28, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  23. "Happily Ever After," Teh Reykiavik Grapevine, 2008-AUG-01, at: https://grapevine.is/

Site navigation: Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-SEP-24
Latest update: 2017-JUL-01: Canada's 150th anniversary.
Author: B.A. Robinson
 

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