Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that a partner in a same-sex civil partnership should be allowed to adopt their partner’s child.

While gay individuals have been able to adopt children in Germany, their partners in a civil partnership have not been able to adopt the same child.

Same-sex partners have also not been able to adopt the biological children of their partners.

Tuesday’s ruling related to a case in which a woman was refused permission to adopt a child that her partner had earlier adopted.

“In marriage, as in a civil partnership, adoption provides the child in the same way with legal security and material advantages in terms of care, support and inheritance law,” said Judge Ferdinand Kirchhof.

The court said that the government has until June next year to change the law.

While the ruling was described by Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger as “historic”, same-sex couples will still not be allowed to adopt a child as a couple.

Under the ruling, they will have to apply for the adoption in successive steps. This means one partner can adopt the child and only then can the other partner apply to also adopt the child.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger added, however, that she believes that “Full adoption must be the next step”.

Same-sex registered partnerships were introduced in 2001 in Germany, but gay marriage is not yet legal.

A January poll found that support for same-sex marriage is at 66% in Germany while 24% are opposed. Fifty-nine percent are in favour of gay adoption.

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