German Law on Same-Sex Unions Set to Start

Auxiliary Bishop of Rottenburg Sees «Great Debate» Opening

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ROME, JULY 31, 2001 ( A controversial law on homosexual unions, approved in Parliament last December and confirmed by the Constitutional Court on July 18, comes into force in Germany on Wednesday.

Same-sex couples will be able to register with authorities and enjoy some of the rights previously reserved for spouses, such as the ability to assume a partner´s surname and to inherit a partner´s property.

Some local administrations, such as Berlin´s, have already expressed their willingness to join homosexual couples in marriage.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Maria Renz of Rottenburg-Stuttgart spoke about the new law over Vatican Radio.

–Q: What is the position of the Catholic Church in Germany given this new measure?

–Bishop Renz: The Church in Germany has always said that, one thing is the civil security of these people, and quite another is matrimony, which is a truly exclusive state, sanctioned by the German Constitution. This fundamental norm of the state safeguards marriage between man and woman, whose exclusivity at present has been challenged.

–Q: Has this law met with any political opposition?

–Bishop Renz: Yes. The Christian Democrats, for example, have always said that marriage is an exclusive state. This is an important point, which at present is not guaranteed by the law.

–Q: In any case, the law leaves a certain margin for decision to the different regions.

–Bishop Renz: Unfortunately, this space is minimal, as the law is now valid for the whole of Germany. Its application can differ in some point in the different regions, but the law as such cannot be altered in the whole country.

–Q: The mayor of Berlin recently declared himself a homosexual. Many homosexuals also appear on television advertising in Germany. What is happening?

–Bishop Renz: This public confession of the mayor of Berlin has encouraged homosexuals, who up until now had been very reserved. Hence, a great debate has opened in Germany.

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