The German Federal Constitutional
Court, the nation's highest, has expanded the rights of gay and
lesbian couples to adopt, ordering the government to draw up new
legislation by next year.
The court said that one member of a gay
couple in a civil partnership has the right to adopt the partner's
stepchild or adopted child. Previously, the law only allowed them to
adopt a partner's biological child.
Germany has recognized gay couples with
civil partnerships since 2001.
While polls show that a majority of
Germans support full marriage rights for gay couples, Germany has not
moved toward its legalization.
The court ruled in a challenge from a
woman prevented from adopting a Bulgarian girl whom her partner had
Despite the ruling, gay couples still
cannot jointly adopt children.
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the
government's justice minister and a member of the Free Democrats,
praised the ruling.
“Today's decision marks a historic
step finally to put rainbow families in Germany on a comprehensive,
secure legal footing,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is quoted as
saying by the AP. “Full adoption must be the next step.”
Constanze Koerner of the Gay &
Lesbian Association of Berlin told Al Jazeera that the ruling was
“Over the last years, a lot of
homosexuals have felt really resigned because adoption was not seen
as an option,” she said.