Germany: Why Gay Marriage Still Isn’t Legal in Germany

It was probably Angela Merkel’s most cringe-worthy moment ever: During a live televised debate in 2013, an audience member asked the chancellor whether it would one day be possible for him and his male partner to adopt a child together. Usually composed and eloquent, Ms. Merkel stumbled through a confused answer. She had “difficulties” with giving gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt, she said, admitting that this might seem old-fashioned. “I am unsure what is good for the child, and this uncertainty I would simply like to be allowed to express without wanting to discriminate against anyone.”

Four years on, and in another election campaign, the chancellor hasn’t changed her tune. Germany has long been seen as a liberal and progressive nation, and its capital, Berlin, is considered a global queer hub. Yet it remains one of only a few Western countries where gay marriage still isn’t legal (see map).

Germany has always been ambivalent about homosexuality. On one hand, it has often been in the vanguard of gay culture. The world’s first lobby for homosexuals, the “Scientific-Humanitarian Committee,” was founded in Berlin in 1897. Schöneberg, a district of Berlin, was considered the world’s first gay village, and in the 1920s, German cabaret became famous for its gender-bending.

On the other hand, homosexuality (at least the male kind) was illegal during this entire time – banned under paragraph 175 of the criminal code that took effect in 1871, when Germany first unified. The Nazis broadened this paragraph, so that even a love letter from man to man became a crime. Tens of thousands were forced to wear the pink triangle in concentration camps; many were murdered. Read more via Handelsblatt Global