German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected calls to give to LGBT couples the tax breaks enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
Speaking to public broadcaster ARD at the weekend, Ms Merkel said her coalition had done much improve the legal position of same-sex partners, but added that she was “not sure” that should extend to equal tax status.
She said: “I believe that it would be good at this point to wait for the court’s decision” in reference to a ruling due from Germany’s constitutional court – with the decision due next year – on whether said tax privileges should also be extended to same-sex couples in registered domestic partnerships.
Merkel’s coalition government is not only divided over this issue – the extension adoption rights to gay couples has also caused factions within the coalition.
While junior coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP) are pro-equality on both issues, many members are not in favour.
While the tax issue has both supporters and opponents within Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), gay adoption rights is not at all popular among members of the conservative union.
The German tax system allows that married couples pay their income tax on a joint basis, resulting in huge advantages – especially there is a marked difference in their incomes.
But this arrangement does not apply to gay and lesbian couples, including those in registered domestic partnerships.
Last week Katherina Reiche, a senior member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats Union (CDU) party ignited a storm of controversy after she said the country’s future “lies in the hands of families [and] not in same-sex partnerships.”
She added that the rise of same-sex unions was “next to the euro crisis [as] the biggest threat to German prosperity.”