The German parliament has voted to legalise marriage equality.
On Friday, a majority of lawmakers in the country’s Bundestag voted in favour of same-sex marriage – 393 votes for and 226 against.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured, inset) voted against the bill, but it was her granting of a conscience vote to her conservative MPs earlier this week that allowed the measure to pass.
“For me, marriage as it’s meant in the constitution is marriage between a man and a woman, and that’s why I voted against today,” Merkel said after the vote, as translated by Buzzfeed.
“It was a long, intense and emotionally touching debate. That’s true for me personally as well.
“That’s why I hope that with this vote we were able to create not only mutual respect between the different positions but also a bit more peace and unity in society.”
In a statement, the German Lesbian and Gay Federation reflected on their decades fighting for marriage equality in the country and said it was a “historic day, not only for gays and lesbians but for a more just and democratic society.”
— DW | Politics (@dw_politics) June 30, 2017
— LSVD-Bundesverband (@lsvd) June 30, 2017
Australian marriage equality advocates celebrated the German vote and said Angela Merkel’s move to allow her conservative MPs a free vote increased pressure on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do the same.
“The German government has demonstrated that this issue does not need to be lost in politics but can instead be a moment of national unity and celebration,” Australian Marriage Equality co-chair Alex Greenwich said.
“As Prime Minister Turnbull travels through Germany over the next week we ask him to observe the happiness this reform has brought to gay and lesbian people and their families across Germany and how the sky hasn’t fallen in.”
Daniel Witthaus, the German-Australian founder of rural anti-homophobia organisation NICHE, described the vote as bittersweet.
“It’s wonderful that in my father’s country a long-time social conservative like Angela Merkel can stare down internal party opposition to marriage equality,” he said.
“But it’s exasperating that in my own country a long-time social progressive like Malcolm Turnbull can’t do the same.”
Germany is one of the last western European countries to legalise marriage equality, which is supported by more than 70% of Germans according to recent polls.
(Top photo via Twitter, inset by Marc Müller/MSC)