At long last, Germany will allow same-sex couples to enter into marriage, just like heterosexual couples.
On Friday, the Bundestag (the lower house of parliament) voted in favour of legalising marriage equality in a bill put forward by the Social Democrats (SPD).
The vote saw 393 members of parliament approving the move, while 226 rejected the bill and four abstained.
Under the amendment, same-sex couples will be able to equally enjoy all the rights linked to marriage, including access to joint adoption.
The landmark development was made possible after Chancellor Angela Merkel gave in to pressure and finally allowed members of her CDU party a free vote on the issue.
Merkel herself voted against the bill, explaining that she still personally maintains her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
She added, however: “I hope that the vote today shows not only the mutual respect for different opinions but that this also leads to more peace and social cohesion as well.”
Recent polls revealed that around two-thirds of Germans support marriage equality.
“After years of waiting and hoping, rainbow families in Germany will now receive equal recognition under the law – this is a historic milestone that can inspire even more change for LGBTI people,” commented ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.
Registered life partnerships for same-sex couples have been possible since 2001 in Germany, but not marriage. The existing marriage legislation will now be amended to read: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex.”
The bill is expected to pass through the Bundesrat, parliament’s upper house, next week. The law allowing same-sec couples to marry should come into effect before the end of the year.