German president hopes to follow Ireland on marriage equality
Joachim Gauck calls for ‘stronger debate’ on same-sex marriage in Berlin
German president Joachim Gauck said backing marriage equality was “not a vote against, but rather for something”. Photograph: Wolfgang Kumm/EPA
In a clear nod at a reticent Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Gauck said backing marriage equality was “not a vote against, but rather for something.
“I thus hope that Germany can also have a stronger debate in which people are not overwhelmed by a feeling that equality between themselves and others is taking something away from them or posing a threat to their own way of life,” he said, ahead of a three-day State visit to Ireland, beginning on Monday.
“It should be made clearer that enabling homosexual people who wish to live in a legally binding partnership . . . gives them the chance to live a life of equal value in love and partnership.”
Germany introduced civil partnerships for gay couples in 2001, but demands to go further have followed the passage of the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage and subsequent US supreme court ruling that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional.
Dr Merkel refuses to touch the issue, telling The Irish Times last month there was no majority for it in her ruling Christian Democratic Union party.
A recent YouGov opinion poll published in Germany suggested some two-thirds of Germans support marriage equality – and 57 per cent of CDU voters.
Mr Gauck will be awarded an honorary doctorate at NUI Galway and visit its Irish centre for human rights.