In low key fashion, Germany’s new Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks came out this week in a newspaper interview – making her the country’s first openly lesbian cabinet member.

Ms Hendricks, a member of the Social Democrats for 20 years, mentioned in an interview with the Rheinische Post that she would “be spending New Year’s Eve with her life partner”.

A practicing Catholic, the 62-year-old has been in the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, for 19 years.

As well as being the first openly gay female cabinet minister, she is the first in the new “grand coalition”, led by third term Chancellor Angela Merkel.

During 2013, Chancellor Merkel angered LGBT campaigners with her slowness to back equal tax arrangements for same-sex couples and her continued refusal to support equal marriage.

A February 2013 poll found 74% of the German people supported same-sex marriage.

Former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle became Germany’s first openly gay cabinet minister in October 2009.

He resigned as foreign affairs minister last month and also left the Bundestag, having been elected in 1996.