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Germany’s opposition vows equal marriage ‘within 100 days’ of election

Nick Duffy June 23, 2017

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 26: Martin Schulz, newly-elected chairman and chancellor candidate of the German Social Democrats (SPD), arrives to speak to SPD memberrs at SPD headquarters in Berlin after initial elections results gave the SPD a second place finish, though with less votes than hoped, in Saarland state elections on March 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The SPD has seen a strong upswing in popularity and membership since Schulz, former President of the European Parliament, was chosen as the SPD chancellor candidate for German federal elections slated for September. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Germany’s centre-left SPD has vowed to bring about equal marriage within 100 days of the country’s election.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is currently the junior partner in a grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-wing Christian Democrats.

Equal marriage has been a bone of contention between the coalition partners. The SPD strongly backs same-sex marriage, but conservative views within Merkel’s party have blocked progress.

Campaigners for equal marriage in Germany
Campaigners for equal marriage in Germany

Ahead of September’s federal elections, however, the SPD has signalled that it will make clear demands on the issue as part of any future coalition deal.

Party Secretary General Hubertus Heil told the Rheinische Post newspaper that if his party is part of the next government, it will ensure equality within the first 100 days.

He said: “Whatever the coalition, if the SPD is going to be in the next government, we will implement marriage for all within the first 100 days.

“It’s completely backward of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to hold on to this unequal treatment. The state should not dictate who should love whom.”

The SPD follows in the wake of the Green Party, which has also signalled that it would make equal marriage a condition of any coalition.

Angela Merkel’s party, which remains opposed to equal marriage, maintains a lead in the polls – but is unlikely to gain enough seats to govern alone.

Across three terms in power, the long-serving Chancellor has always relied on coalitions with either the SPD or the liberal Free Democratic Party.

Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly ruled out calls to introduce equal marriage, saying: “For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together.”

The upper house of the German Parliament  has previously passed symbolic motions calling for same-sex marriage.

Unlike the Bundestag (main chamber of the Germany Parliament), where Chancellor Merkel’s Grand Coalition holds control, the Bundesrat (equivalent to the Upper House/Senate) is controlled by the 16 state governments, with a left-wing majority.

A coalition of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left backed a bill in the Bundesrat that would recognise unions between same-sex couples, despite Chancellor Merkel’s insistence it is between a man and a woman.

However, no legislation is likely to pass the Bundestag without the government’s blessing

Germany already allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage.

More: election, equal marriage, Europe, Germany, Germany, LGBT, same sex marriage, SPD

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