German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition agreed to make small changes to the country's same-sex civil partnership rules today (May 27), but has reiterated that equal marriage is "not a goal" of her administration.
In the wake of Ireland's historic 'Yes' vote last week - in which 62.1% of voters voted in favour of equal marriage
- there has been added pressure on Chancellor Merkel to introduce equal marriage in Germany, which is now one of the few remaining West European states not to have legal equality.
"Today was an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that," her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. "But same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government."
Of events in Ireland last week, Mr Seibert added: "Every country makes its own laws - some countries go one route while others go another.
"In Germany we'll take a path that suits Germany."
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democrats (SPD) blamed conservative factions within Ms Merkel's party - the Chritian Democratic Union (CDU) - for the lack of progress on the issue, Reuters
"Expanding rights for registered partnerships is another step toward giving same-sex unions the same rights as marriages," said Maas. "We haven't reached the goal yet."
He added: "Unfortunately that wasn't possible with the conservatives."
Polls have indicated that 75% of Germans are in favour of legalising gay marriage, as are the SPD and all opposition parties.
"This government isn't capable of spontaneous reforms and is unable to move with the times," said Thomas Jaeger, political scientist at Cologne University. "These are two big parties in the way of each other that don't have the courage to tackle anything not agreed on in advance in their coalition agreement."
Germany allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage, but the Chancellor’s CDU/CSU coalition continues to oppose equal marriage.
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