Gay and Lesbian Couples Obtain Limited Right to Adopt in Germany

Last week a majority of German lawmakers approved a bill that gives gays and lesbians in a civil union the right to adopt their partner’s adopted child.

A large majority of the Bundestag (Lower House of German Parliament) voted in favor of the bill, introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s broad coalition of center-right CDU with its sister party CSU and the left-of-center SDP. The new law will take effect immediately.

In February 2013, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe had ruled that it was illegal to ban so-called “successive adoption” based on sexual orientation.  Last week’s vote was a direct implementation of that ruling, according to Justice Minister Christian Lange, a member of the SDP.

The two remaining opposition parties, the Greens and the Left, criticized the bill as not going far enough.

Since 2005 a person has been able to adopt the biological child of his or her partner, but even after the latest reform, gay partners do not have the legal right to jointly adopt a child.  Although in 2001 German Parliament passed legislation to recognize same-sex unions in so-called “life partnerships” and extended additional rights in 2004 and 2014, there is still no marriage equality in Germany.

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