German minister urges tax equality for gay couples
A DECADE after Germany legalised gay partnerships, the country’s family minister has backed a call to extend to same-sex couples the tax benefits still reserved for married couples.
Kristina Schröder, a married mother of one, said gay partnership represented a “long-term commitment” and thus “conservative values”.
She is the first cabinet minister in the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to back a proposal for tax equality by 13 backbench MPs.
Some 23,000 same-sex couples have registered their partnership in Germany since the introduction of a law in 2001 – a third of the total number of such couples, according to census data.
The legislation gives similar provisions to same-sex couples as married couples, though differences remain in tax and adoption law.
Two years ago Germany’s constitutional court ruled as unconstitutional provisions in the registration law excluding registered same-sex couples from tax privileges for married couples.
Last week the court ruled that public servants, judges and soldiers in registered partnerships had the same entitlement to family allowances as heterosexual married couples.
It is likely to hand down a broader ruling on tax privilege differences between gay and married couples next year.
With this verdict coming down the line, the 13 government MPs said the time had come for the CDU to “make tax equality its political decision”.
“It is not acceptable that politicians are constantly . . . being asked to abolish the current inequality by the constitutional court,” they said.
“We want to recognise that life partners with a registered partnership have set up a framework for a long-term relationship based on mutual trust and affection.”
Registered partners had the same “mutual income obligations and duties to each other” as married couples, the deputies argued, and should have the same tax status. They plan to present their proposal to the CDU parliamentary party in the autumn.
“In lesbian and gay life partnerships, people take on long-term responsibility for each other, and so they live by conservative values,” said Kristina Schröder, the family minister.
The coalition is divided on the issue of tax breaks for gay couples: the CDU and its Bavarian CSU ally is traditionally opposed while the Free Democrat (FDP) coalition partner, with a gay former leader, is a proponent.
FDP leader Philipp Rösler said he saw the need for “discussions” with finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
A spokesman for Mr Schäuble dismissed such talk, urging government MPs to “wait for the constitutional court’s verdict in this matter”.