Gay couples have equal inheritance rights: top German court

17th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Gay couples in Germany who have formally registered their partnerships must have equal inheritance rights to married couples, the country's top court said Tuesday.

Germany introduced "registered partnerships" for same-sex couples in 2001 but stopped short of granting them the full rights and privileges afforded to married couples.

The ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court found that inheritance tax law as it stood between 2001 and 2008, when the legislation was reformed, put gay registered partners at a marked disadvantage.

"While married couples were put in the most advantageous tax group I and regardless of the amount inherited had to pay between seven and 30 percent tax, life partners, as 'other beneficiaries' in tax group III, had to pay between 17 and 50 percent tax," the court said in a statement.

Married couples also had a far higher tax exempt sum than gay partners.

New legislation in December 2008 helped close the gap and the government put forward a draft bill in June offering full equality with married couples in inheritance taxes, the court noted.

The court set a deadline of December 31, 2010 for the parliament to produce new legislation to rectify the "unconstitutional" disadvantage for gay partners in the years 2001 to 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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