Germany’s high court today ruled that civil partners of government employees are eligible to receive the same pension rights as their straight married counterparts.

The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, the highest court in the country, heard the case of a Hamburg public servant who had been in his job since 1991.

The public-sector pension company VBL had refused to consider him in the same way as a married person, despite the fact he had been in a civil partnership for eight years.

Under VBL’s stance, he would have received €74 less each month than a heterosexual married man, while his partner would receive no surviving dependants’ pension if he died.

The court ruled today that VBL’s position was unconstitutional.

According to The Local, the unnamed man’s lawyer Dirk Siegfried said: “I see this as a very big step for the equality of homosexual marriage not only for employee pensions, but in many other areas too.”

In August, the same court confirmed that gay and lesbian people can adopt their partner’s children, overturning a previous court ruling.

It rejected the argument that to allow the female partner of a child’s mother to adopt would undermine the rights of the other biological parent.

A recent study revealed that 6,600 children in Germany are being raised by gay and lesbian parents.

However, gay or lesbian people or couples cannot adopt children they are not related to.

Social Democrat politicians, including Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, have called for a change to the law.

Gay and lesbian couples can register their partnerships and their rights include most of those of marriage, including the possibility of stepchild adoption, but they are denied the same tax benefits.