German upper house symbolically backs gay marriage
Germany's upper house of parliament Friday adopted a resolution calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which is opposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
The "Marriage for All" resolution, which is not binding, was passed in the Bundesrat, where the majority is held by opposition parties and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Merkel's junior partners in a "grand coalition" government.
Germany introduced civil unions for gay and lesbian couples in 2001, but they do not have the right to marry and are still also forbidden from jointly adopting children.
The upper house lawmakers referred to Ireland's overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage in May, which has stirred up debate in Germany on allowing same-sex couples to have the same rights as heterosexual spouses.
Three days after the Irish vote, the German cabinet okayed a raft of draft measures to extend the rights of same-sex couples but faced criticism for not going further and permitting full gay marriage.
The Bundesrat, which represents the country's 16 states, was also presented Friday with draft legislation on permitting gay marriage which was sent for examination in committee.
If it were approved, it would then have to go before parliament's lower house, the Bundestag, where Merkel's conservative bloc and SPD coalition ally have an overwhelming majority.
But the left-right government, whose term runs until 2017, has no plans to change the status quo under its agreed work programme.
"Nothing is mightier than an idea whose time has come," said the SPD's Malu Dreyer, the premier of Rhineland-Palatinate state.
© 2015 AFP