Against sexual discrimination

Marriage for all and the third gender: how new laws are promoting equal rights for LGBT in Germany.

The gay pride flag stands for acceptance of sexual diversity.
The gay pride flag stands for acceptance of sexual diversity. picture alliance/Winfried Rothermel

Which laws exist in Germany to protect against sexual discrimination?

The General Act on Equal Treatment guarantees equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. It prohibits the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT). In the summer of 2017, Germany’s Federal Government widened its National Action Plan Against Racism, in which homophobia and transphobia are outlawed.

What does marriage for all mean?

The first step towards legal status for homosexual couples was the registered civil partnership in 2001, known colloquially as the homo marriage. It allowed a couple to take the same family name, obliged both partners to support one another, and set out their inheritance rights. There were limits with respect to adopting children, however.

On 30 June 2017, the Bundestag – Germany’s parliament – adopted the marriage for all. 74.7 percent of Germans were in favour in a survey conducted by the Insa institute. Since October 2017, same-sex couples have been able to get married and now enjoy the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples. This makes Germany one of the world’s 24 countries in which homosexual couples are allowed to get married.

How are adoption rights influenced by the marriage for all?

Marriage for all now also allows same-same couples to jointly adopt a child. Previously it was merely possible for one partner to adopt the other’s biological or adopted child.

What does the “third gender” mean?

In Germany’s register of births, it is now possible to make the gender entry “other”. This is to give equal rights to intersexual persons who display both male and female biological characteristics from birth. Previously they had to accept their inaccurate assignment to a specific gender or leave the gender entry blank. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that this constituted a violation of the non-discrimination rule enshrined in Germany’s Basic Law.

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