German court expands adoption rights of gay couples

Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:21am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's constitutional court handed same-sex couples a victory on Tuesday by ruling that gay people should be allowed to adopt a child already adopted by their partner.

The court said an existing ban on the practice - known as successive adoption - violated the principle of equal treatment of people regardless of their sexual orientation.

It said the status quo also harmed the rights of the children involved.

"The exclusion of successive adoption by registered partners violates the general principle of equality," said the court, based in Karlsruhe in southwest Germany.

The government has until July 2014 to amend the law to incorporate the ruling, which applies to gay people in civil partnerships.

Under German law, a gay person can already adopt the biological children of his or her registered partner.

In Germany homosexuals can form civil partnerships but are not allowed to marry. The law already allows a married person to adopt a partner's adopted children.

Opposition parties and gay activists accuse Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government of dragging its feet on equality for gay couples. Civil partnerships are denied the tax privileges accorded to married couples.

Lawmaker Volker Beck of the opposition Greens said on Tuesday the government was failing in its responsibilities by leaving the constitutional court to tackle issues of gay equality on a case-by-case basis.   Continued...

A gay couple hold hands during their symbolic wedding ceremony in central Rome May 21, 2005. REUTERS/Max Rossi