Annual Review 2011
Equality and non-discrimination
- The German Ethics Council worked on developing an opinion on the situation and challenges facing intersex people. In May, it conducted a survey of intersex people and in June, it ran a public consultation entitled On the situation of people with intersexuality in Germany. It worked with intersex people, organisations, medical practitionersand lawyers amongst others. The opinion is expected in 2012.
- The Saarland Constitution was amended to extend the non-discrimination principle to include sexual identity, a German legal concept that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Higher Regional Court of Hamburg held that the current Adoption Law that applies to same-sex partners violates the Constitution. Under the Adoption Law, a registered partner is only allowed to adopt the biological child/ren of her/his partner, but not the adopted child/ren of her/his partner. The Regional Court of Hamburg said it could fi nd no basis for this distinction, and that there is no evidence that children suff er if raised by same-sex couples. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany may hear the issue.
Germany had long supported the African country of Malawi with development aid money. In response to the 2010 Malawian law that makes same-sex relationships a crime and reduces the freedom of the press, the German Development Ministry announced that it would half the amount of budget aid provided in 2010, and the whole amount of budget aid for 2011 was frozen.
Legal gender recognition
The German Federal Constitutional Court ruled (1 BvR 3295/07) that requiring trans individuals to undergo surgery and prove sterility before changing their legal gender violates the German Constitution. Specifically, the Court said that the requirements were not compatible with the right to sexual self-determination. A trans woman challenged the surgery requirement after she was denied a same-sex partnership with her lesbian partner because she had legally changed her name to reflect her female gender, but had not undergone surgery. Thus, she was not yet a woman in the eyes of the law. The surgeries previously required included genital surgery and left patients permanently sterile.
Participation in public/political life
- Susanne Baer was appointed to the Federal Constitutional Court and took up her position in February. She is the first out lesbian to hold the position.
- In June, the women’s football World Cup opened in Germany a few days after the annual Christopher Street Day (Pride Parade) during which thousands marched through Berlin in the Parade which this year targeted homophobia in sport. Organisers commented on how rare coming out is in sport, and how FIFA (football’s international governing body) has remained silent on homophobia. In August, Germany’s football captain Philipp Lahm said in his autobiography that he would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out. He cited the case of Justin Fashanu (British footballer) who he said committed suicide as a result of the homophobia following his coming out.
- 2011 saw openly gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit celebrate a decade in offi ce. Wowereit has published an autobiography about his experience and still enjoys relatively high levels of popularity.
Social security and social protection
- On 10 May, in the case of Jürgen Römer v Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg (C-147/08), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that a surviving partner of a same-sex civil partnership should receive the same pension benefits as married partners in similar circumstances. The man had brought the claim against the city of Hamburg after it declined to put him in the same pension category as married surviving partners. The CJEU found that this could be construed as discrimination based on sexual orientation. The man had worked for the city of Hamburg for many years and claimed he was owed around €300 more per month than he was receiving.
- Following this decision, Germany passed federal legislation that ensures that registered partners who work as civil servants for the Federal Administration (including federal judges, the armed forces, and cooperation aid employees) will have equal rights to those of married civil servants (retroactively applied as of 1 January 2009). The rights which were not previously available include family and mobility allowance, dependant and survivor’s rights. The State of North Rhine Westphalia also extended rights to its civil servants in registered partnerships (retroactively applied as of 3 December 2003). The Saarland Parliament also approved legislation which provides for the extension of rights to registered partners of civil servants, previously reserved for spouses (retroactively applied as of 1 July 2009).