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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 17:46 GMT
Germany approves 'gay marriage'
Two men embracing
The first ceremony is not expected until June
By Rob Broomby in Berlin

The upper chamber of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, has approved a limited form of gay marriage.

But the parliament, which has a veto on all legislation connected to tax and financial matters, voted down some sections of the new law.

Campaigners say these proposals would have ended tax discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.

Two men holding hands
Relationships will have legal recognition
The law comes into effect on 1 January, but the first register office ceremony is not expected until June at the earliest.

It will be left to the federal state to decide where the registration takes place.

In ultra-conservative regions such as Bavaria, authorities have suggested that gay and lesbian couples might tie the knot at district council offices, which handle everyday business including vehicle registration.

'Attack on marriage'Members of the Bavaria-based CSU (Christian Social Union) have called the new rules the greatest attack on the institution of marriage in decades.

Under the regulations, couples can take the same surname, share household insurance and act as the next of kin in key medical decisions.

Financial provisions

The relationships will have legal recognition, and the rules will extend to foreigners.

But the right to adopt children was excluded.

The Bundesrat also voted down key financial provisions which would have ended discrimination on the basis of sexuality over income and inheritance tax laws.

The legislation envisaged new obligations as well as rights for gay couples. One was the requirement to support an unemployed partner, however the Bundesrat voted this down.

Holland and the US state of Vermont have already approved laws giving gay marriages the same legal status as heterosexual marriages, while Canada is debating similar proposals.

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See also:

01 Dec 00 | Europe
Germany debates 'gay marriage'
30 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Gay consent at 16 becomes law
12 Sep 00 | Europe
Dutch legalise gay marriage
08 Mar 00 | Americas
California rejects gay marriage
30 Mar 00 | Americas
US rabbis approve gay partnership
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