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Civil Unions in Germany

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by: Isabelle Eisinger

sumber: http://jewishcurrents.org/december-31-civil-union-civil-divorce-24043
Since 1968 homosexual activities have not been prosecuted anymore in Germany. Because of the introduction of the civil union for same-sex couples in Denmark, things started to change in Germany, in the 1990s. The German Gay Association (SVD) and other LGBT organizations as well as the German lesbian comedian Hella von Sinnen campaigned for the right to marry for same-sex couples and the public acceptance about the issue rose tremendously.
After a long struggle the German government passed the bill of the civil union act in 2001. Since then, in Germany a civil union is only possible for same-sex couples who are of full age. Both partners are beholden to a common conduct of life and a civil union maintenance and if they wish they can bear the same name. In these aspects the civil partnership is quite similar to the marriage.
However, a civil union is not the same as a marriage. Life partners had disadvantages relating to the income tax act until it was equalized for married couples and couples living in a civil union in the year 2011. Besides, there is also a difference concerning the adoption law. Life partners cannot adopt a child together; nevertheless can one of them adopt a child with the agreement of his or her partner. Moreover can they adopt their life partner’s biological child as a stepchild.
Although in Germany same-sex couples can legally become a civil union now, which is similar to a marriage, most religious institutions still disagree with their right for a partnership union.
The Catholic Church refuses homosexuality in general, arguing that people from the same sex cannot produce new life by sexual intercourse. The current pope, Franziskus, speaks out against homosexual marriages but he argues for the civil union for same-sex couples, which is a progress into the right direction and a sign that the Catholic Church opens up to the issue of homosexuality. However, until today, most Christian churches do not allow church weddings for same-sex couples, neither in Germany nor in any other country. There is only a small group of Christian churches in the world where homosexual couples can marry with the churchly blessing. As Christianity is the most common religion in Germany, many same-sex couples find it important that the Christian church goes through a transformation referring to homosexuality and the marriage of same-sex couples. Besides, the church’s position towards the topic of homosexuality might be one reason for the declination of church members in Germany in the last years.
Nowadays, homosexuals are accepted and have equal or similar rights as heterosexuals in many domains, such as in the civil union or in their job. Compared to the last century, the progress of their rights and their position in the German society has been immense. But that does not mean that there is not still a lot to do. So, the disadvantages that still exist for same-sex couples are in terms of the adoption right, the income tax and their refusal by the church have to be overcome.