Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD)

Marriage Equality in Germany: 30 years of fight for Same Sex Marriage

Right-to-marry: five nail-biting days in June and 30 years of fight

Since when is marriage equality allowed in Germany? What where the most important milestones for same sex marriages?

Since when is same sex marriage allowed in Germany? What are the most important milestones in the fight for marriage equality? What influence had chancellor Merkel?

Marriage Equality in Germany: 5 nail-biting days in June 2017 in the fight for Same Sex Marriage

Did the Chancellor publish her change of stance one day too early? Or was she bowing to the inevitable, and clearing the same-sex marriage issue out of the way before election campaigning kicked off in earnest? We’ll probably never know for certain. After over a quarter of a century of struggle and debate, Merkel’s statement changed the legalization of same-sex marriage from a matter of time to one of five days.

June 2017

All of Merkel’s potential coalition partners following the September elections to the Bundestag – the Greens, FDP, and SPD – pledged they would not join a coalition government that did not commit to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Germany’s Gay and Lesbian Federation (LSVD) had already called for such a commitment in its pre-election questions canvassing the views of the political parties. At its AGM in April, the LSVD set out its demands regarding the 2017 elections, including the question: will you sign a coalition agreement only if includes a pledge to introduce same-sex marriage (point 2.3.)?

The pledges from other parties have left Merkel and her party with no room to maneuver.

Monday, 26 June 2017

During a TV Q&A session hosted by German women’s magazine BRIGITTE, audience member Ulli Köppe asks Angela Merkel when he’ll be able to marry his boyfriend.

In a convoluted reply, she indicates it will most likely be decided on a conscience vote. That same evening, the media report that the conservative alliance is softening its stance on same-sex marriage.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The pace of events becomes unstoppable: SPD leaders agree to push for a snap vote on same-sex marriage this week, even without the agreement of coalition partner CDU/CSU.

The SPD’s candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz, gives a public statement on the SPD’s intention. The conservative alliance’s Secretary-General Volker Kauder warns this will be a break of the coalition. But Thomas Oppermann, his counterpart from the SPD parliamentary group, says: “It’s supposed to be a conscience vote. And the Bundestag we have right now also has a conscience.”

The SPD announces it will table a vote on Friday on a bill drafted by Germany’s Bundesrat (the chamber of the regions) in 2015, which has long been awaiting a vote in the Bundestag.

Agencies report the CSU will allow its deputies a free vote; a short time later the CDU follows suit.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Before today, the Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs, with the votes of the SPD and CDU/CSU, had blocked consideration of the Bundesrat draft bill no fewer than 30 times. This time, the committee gives a majority vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

It is now clear the Bundestag will vote on the issue in two days’ time.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Media interest is huge. The LSVD’s Berlin office holds its first international press conference.

he LSVD writes to all CDU/CSU deputies asks them to follow their conscience and vote for love. Tension mounts, and by the evening has reached unbearable levels.

Friday June 30, 2017

Right on time at 8.00 am, the President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, opens the 244th session in front of a full house, with every visitors’ seat taken.

A visible majority votes in favor of the revised agenda for the day, permitting the same-sex marriage vote to go ahead. Brief speeches are given by the party group leaders and other deputies.

Voting then takes place – non-anonymously, with each deputy using a ballot slip bearing their name.

At 9:10 am, President Lammert announces that the same-sex marriage bill has passed – with 393 votes for, 226 against, 4 abstentions and 7 absent votes. All the members of the SPD, Linke, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and 75 CDU/CSU deputies voted in favor.

Germany has voted for love. The LSVD celebrates the legalization of same-sex marriage and an historic day! Not just for lesbians and gay men, but also for a more just and democratic society. In future, it is no longer gender that determines whether people can marry in Germany – it is love, partnership and the promise to be there for each other in good and bad times.

Marriage Equality in Germany - A Time Line of 30 Years of Fighting

7th July 2017

The Same-Sex Marriage Act passes the Bundesrat on 7th July. The act passes both chambers without a change to the constitution.

30th June 2017

Vote in the Bundestag: 393 deputies vote for equality, 226 are against, and four abstain.

28th June 2017

The Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs recommends by majority vote that marriage should be opened to same-sex couples on the basis of the bill drafted by the Bundesrat.

27th June 2017

CDU and CSU permit their deputies to vote as they wish – there is no party whip on the vote.

26th June 2017

In a TV panel discussion, Chancellor Merkel softens her opposition to same-sex marriage and suggests the issue should be the subject of a free (conscience) vote in parliament.

25th June 2017

In his speech at the SPD party conference, SPD candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz vows he will not sign a coalition agreement that does not pledge to introduce same-sex marriage.

24th June 2017

FDP Chairman Christian Lindner also declares: no coalition without same-sex marriage.

17th June 2017

At their party conference, the Green Party make same-sex marriage a condition of a post-election coalition.

April 2017

The LSVD adopts a resolution on its petitions for the Bundestag election 2017. Among other issues, we ask all the parties: do you undertake only to sign a coalition agreement if it contains a pledge to legalize same-sex marriage?

12th January 2017

According to a survey conducted by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Bureau, 83% of the population is in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

28th September 2015

Hearing in the Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs on legalization of same-sex marriage. Manfred Bruns, spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, participates as an invited expert.

25th September 2015

On the initiative of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Bundesrat once again adopts a bill on the right of same-sex couples to marry.

10th June 2015

The party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen again introduces a same-sex marriage bill into the Bundestag.

June 2015

After the referendum in Ireland, the LSVD and Campact launch an online petition calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Germany. Over 100,000 people sign.

May 2014

With its initiative “Constitution, Not Gut Instinct” (translator’s note: a play on Chancellor Merkel’s citing her “gut instinct” as a reason for opposing equal adoption rights), the LSVD stages a protest in front of the Federal Chancellery for equal adoption rights.

23rd October 2013

The Linke (Left) Party introduces a bill into the Bundestag to legalize same-sex marriage.

Bundestag Elections 2013

The LSVD canvases the views of the parties on LGBTI* issues and publishes the replies. It also publishes an overall survey of voting records of Members of the Bundestag with respect to LGBTI* rights. Much is promised – also in a panel discussion with top politicians on the subject “Marriage for all – now!” Among the pledges: “100 percent equality.” After the election, the LSVD demands that promises are kept, and stages a vocal demonstration for equal rights at the venue of the coalition negotiations taking place between CDU/CSU and SPD. The coalition agreement is, however, a disappointment.

6th June 2013

The Federal Constitutional Court publishes its judgment on the extension of the married couples’ tax regime to civil partnerships. The court demands fiscal equality, to be applied retroactively as of 1 August 2001. The principle of equal treatment applies to all citizens regardless of their sexual identity.

22nd March 2013

As the first constitutional body to do so, the Bundesrat votes to legalize same-sex marriage. On the day of the vote the LSVD demonstrates in front of the Bundesrat buildings in support of the initiative of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. The Federal government, with its CDU/CSU and FDP coalition, ignores the vote of the regional chamber.

February 2013

The Federal Constitutional Court judges the prohibition of co-adoption of an adopted child (successive adoption) within civil partnerships to be unconstitutional.


The Federal Constitutional Court judges on cases concerning land purchase tax and family allowance in favor of equality of civil partnerships.

30th July 2011

The LSVD organizes the conference “10 Years of Civil Partnership – Ready for Marriage” in Berlin City Hall. After the predominantly successful court cases to improve civil partnerships, the call for full marriage now takes a more prominent position.


The Greens and SPD win the state elections in the southwest: ten years after the introduction of civil partnerships, Baden-Württemberg becomes the last state in Germany to permit civil partnerships to be registered at normal registry offices. On many other fronts also, the LSVD continues the struggle to eliminate inequalities at federal and state levels. A case in point: in 2011 North Rhine-Westphalia finally also accords civil servants in civil partnerships the same rights as married couples. The CDU/CSU and FDP Federal government continues to block progress.

7th July 2009

The Federal Constitutional Court takes a landmark decision on marriage, family and partnerships, bringing a breakthrough for equality.

1st January 2009

Success of the “No Half Measures” campaign: the law on inheritance tax reform comes into force, granting equal tax-free allowances to civil partnerships.

13th June 1st 2007

The LSVD initiates the “No Half Measures” campaign for fiscal equality of civil partnerships.

1st January 2005

The Civil Partnership Amendment Act comes into force. The act eliminates differences between civil partnerships and marriage in civil law, permits step-adoption by civil partners of their partner’s biological children, and gives civil partners equal rights concerning surviving-spouse pensions.

Summer 2004

Lobbying for expansion of the Civil Partnership Act and start of the campaign “Equal rights for equal obligations – the only fair way!”

17th July 2002

The Federal Constitutional Court determines that the Civil Partnership Act is compatible with the Basic Law, and confirms our view that the special protection of marriage in Article 6 (1) of the Basic Law does not prevent the legislature from granting rights and obligations to same-sex partnerships which are equal or close to those of marriage.

9th April 2002

Hearing before the Federal Constitutional Court on the constitutional case brought by Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia against the Civil Partnership Act. The Court also officially gives the LSVD the opportunity to make a statement during proceedings – another major step towards normality in our country.

1st August 2001

The Civil Partnership Act comes into force. The LSVD congratulates the first homosexual couples who go to the registry office.

18th July 2001

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe rejects the petition for a provisional injunction against the Civil Partnership Act, giving the green light to civil partnerships.

Summer 2001

In its campaign “In the name of the people: marry!”, the LSVD protests against complaints of unconstitutionality filed by Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia. By filing an immediate injunction, they attempt to prevent the Civil Partnership Act from entering into force on August 1. They lose their case before the Federal Constitutional Court.

21st December 2000

The Netherlands become the first country in the world to legislate same-sex marriage. The law comes into force on 1st April 2001.

10th November 2000

The Bundestag votes in favour of the Civil Partnership Act. Ten years of persuasive campaigning by the LSVD have paid off. Our association has succeeded in getting public opinion on its side.

3rd August 2000

LSVD demonstration in front of the CDU party center in Berlin, which plans to launch an anti-civil partnership campaign titled “Yes to Tolerance, No to Marriage!” The Union sticks officially to its “No” to civil partnerships, but soon afterwards quietly drops its public campaign.

4th July 2000

The pressure on the government parties is successful: the SPD and Green parliamentary groups unanimously agree to introduce a joint civil partnership bill into the Bundestag.


The LSVD steps up pressure on the government. Together with six other nationwide associations, the magazine “Queer” and the Internet magazine “Eurogay”, a postcard and email campaign is launched calling for recognition of same-sex couples.

30th March 1999

With its call for “Equal Rights for Equal Love”, the LSVD launches its “Say I DO” campaign. The goals are to achieve equal rights for gay and lesbian couples with married couples, and full societal recognition of same-sex lifestyles.

17th January 1999

Together with other associations, the SVD organizes protests against a pastoral letter of Catholic Bishops that describes recognition of homosexual couples as “harmful to people” and “destructive of society”.

14th May 1997

The first official hearing on the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples is held in the Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs. Manfred Bruns, as an invited expert, presents the SVD position.

19th August 1992

Registry Office campaign. 250 gay and lesbian couples nationwide go to their registry office to give notice of intended marriage,

Summer 1991

The SVD (today LSVD), together with the Gay Lawyers’ Association, publishes a draft law on “The introduction of the right to marriage for persons of the same sex”


In its first program of principles, the Gay Federation in Germany (SVD, today LSVD) calls for the right to marry for same-sex couples


Denmark is the first country in the world to introduce civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

End of 1980s

Volker Beck, Günter Dworek and Manfred Bruns publish several papers calling for the establishment of a legal institution for same-sex couples – the first time such a call has been made in the Federal Republic of Germany. They judge the marriage ban for lesbians and gay men to constitute severe discrimination, and emphasize the importance of recognition of lesbian and gay partnerships to emancipation and acceptance within society.