News on the Expansion of Equality Formula in the German Constitution

28Mrz09

The Fundamental Rights of the Basic Law contain no explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to Article 3 Section 3 “no person shall be favored or disfavored because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions. No person shall be disfavored because of disability”. However, it is not intended that no person shall be favored or disfavored because of sexual identity! This is the reason why the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD) calls for an amendment of the equality article in the German Constitution to the characteristic “sexual identity” and therefore for the expansion of the constitutional equality formula. For further information:Aktion Grundgesetz – Lesben und Schwule in die Verfassung!

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Foto: eurOut

The Federal Association for Gay Jurists (BASJ) asks for even more. In their press statement published Thursday, an even further-reaching request can be found. The Association asks to provide other permanent life communities with the same special protection of the Constitution as the traditional marriage is. With this they are following the German Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries.

brigitte zypries

Foto: eurout

Recently Brigitte Zypries declared in a speech that “thinkable is also an extension of Article 6 of the Constitution”. Article 6 Section 6 states that ‘marriage and the family shall enjoy the special protection of the state’. Thus, “marriage and family are under the special protection of the state. At this point, the partnerships should also be mentioned, because partners also take responsibility for each other, stand for each other and live in solidarity and community. Even the same-sex life partnership deserves the protection of the state.” Zypries political goal is according to the jurisprudence of the Federal Constitutional Court, which gives a margin for the legal equality of partners and spouses. “We should consistently implement this margin and we should also think about an amendment to our Constitution in some variation to advance equality.”

I was delighted to read this. Personally, I would find it desirable if Article 6 would express that it is about persons, which take over permanent responsibility for each other. This is the reason why I think that an amendment of Article 6 of the Basic Law and thus the adoption of a “Einstandgemeinschaft” (a relationship where both partners take responsibility for the other *) or long-term love relationship would be more equitable to the change and development of the social reality than the institution of marriage or an adoption of a next fixed term like ‘registered partnership’ in the German Constitution. Even if the implementation seems quiet unrealistic at this time, raising this claim brings the issue of full equality of same-sex partnerships into public discourse as a measure of consciousness alteration. And the fact that even the current Federal Minister of Justice refers to Article 6, shows how present issues of legal and social discrimination are in the minds of politicians. It would be a breakthrough if this was the beginning of ‘A step by step after the other’.

justitia

Foto: eurOut

The position of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows however that more time is still needed to pass. While visiting the Catholic Academy in Berlin she defended the special protection of the institution of marriage. The Chancellor said in her speech that the family is the nucleus of a society. And that she goes on to protect this special position of marriage and family “with all her power”. She emphasized, that she respects other forms of life communities, but this respect differs from equality in this point. Well, there are Parliamentary Elections coming up this year and Angela Merkel as a member of the Christian Democratic Union stated and represented a clear position of her party. As Volker Beck, a Green Party Politician said: Mrs Merkel has made this clear: equality for lesbians and gays will only be reached without Christian Democrats in the Federal Government.

We still have to see how the parliament will be formed after the election and what steps, as small as they may be, can be expected or not. But for this moment, there is nothing left to say than an expansion of equality in the German Constitution would be a sign of our society for tolerance, openness and diversity.

posted on eurOut on March 27th, 2009

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