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Historical day: Germany votes in favour of marriage equality

Friday, 30 June 2017. It is a rainy day in the German capital.

At 8am, the German Bundestag is crowded, which is unusual for this time of the day. It is the day on which the vote on marriage equality is finally being held – after being postponed 30 times during the current legislation. A historical day.

The shift was made possible by an inconspicuous statement of Chancellor Angela Merkel at a panel discussion some days before.

There she mentioned that the vote on marriage equality should be a matter of conscience, signalling that she would not instruct her politicians to vote along party lines anymore.

Her shift was apparently brought about by a family with eight foster kids, headed by a lesbian couple she had met during a visit to her home constituency.

After the vote and the celebrations, more work needs to be done. 

The fact that the State had entrusted them with eight kids reduced her doubts about the well-being of children in rainbow families and made her change her mind on marriage equality.

Immediately, the Social Democrat coalition partner SPD prepared everything so that the vote on marriage equality could be held during the last plenary session within this parliament last Friday.

The result of the vote was overwhelming in favour of marriage equality with 393 votes in favour, 226 against and four abstentions.

On the day, Angela Merkel voted against marriage equality. Political analysts see a tactical calculus: with this move she could take away the topic from the SPD and erase some heat of the electoral campaign; the parliamentary elections of September are approaching.  

Also, she had nothing to lose, since according to surveys 82 percent of Germans are in favour of marriage equality.

We need to make Germany a truly more just and equal country – for everybody.

Yet, after the vote and the celebrations, more work needs to be done. 

Firstlt, because the new law does not state that children born in same-sex marriages will automatically be legally children of both parents.  

Secondly, we need to stand up for trans rights now - legal gender recognition should be based on self-definition and shall not require a mental health diagnosis anymore.

Thirdly, rights for intersex persons need to be finally tackled.

This would make Germany a truly more just and equal country – for everybody.

You can watch the debate (in German) here.