German court backs gay couples’ tax rights in setback to Merkel

Fri Jun 7, 2013 11:51am EDT

1 of 2. Madeline Chambers

(Revellers wearing flowers on their heads talk at the fringes of the Christopher Street Day parade in Berlin, June 23, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Germany’s top court said on Thursday that gay couples are entitled to the same tax benefits as married heterosexuals in a ruling which threatens to deepen rifts within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives just three months before an election.

The verdict requires a change in the law and is a red rag to some in Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its traditionally Catholic Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), who worry that conservative values are being diluted.

The ruling was widely expected after the court in February overturned a ban on same-sex couples adopting a child already adopted by one of the partners.

“The provisions set out in the income-tax law violate the general rule of equality,” wrote the Karlsruhe-based court, adding the law should be changed retroactively from Aug. 2001.

Same-sex partnerships have been legal in Germany since 2001 but do not enjoy the same tax benefits as married heterosexuals. Read the full story here.

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