The Lower House of Germany’s Parliament has approved a measure to equalise tax breaks for couples in civil partnerships and heterosexual marriages.

In a vote late last week the Bundestag gave the bill an overwhelming majority.

It will now proceed to the Bundesrat (Upper House) for approval.

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court called for the tax system to treat civil partnerships equally with marriages in May – a demand which Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously resisted.

Last August, Chancellor Merkel rejected calls for gay couples to receive the same tax breaks enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

Several members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) stated that the party should have moved forward with granting equal tax rights.

Married German couples are allowed to use a “spousal splitting” tax break in which they pool their incomes and divide their earnings to calculate individual income tax.

If the bill passes through the Bundesrat same-sex couples in civil partnerships would be able to use the same spousal splitting to pay less income tax, applying retroactively from 2001, when Germany introduced civil partnerships.

Same-sex marriage remains illegal in Germany.