BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Germany's top court has ruled that gay couples in civil unions should receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual married couples, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said it was a violation of the country's guarantee of equal rights to treat the two forms of partnership differently for tax purposes, the report says.
Gay-rights advocate and opposition legislator Volker Beck called the ruling a "full-blown victory," adding that granting gay couples equal rights to adopt is the next challenge.
AP notes that Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Union Party, which has ties with Christian churches, has argued that married couples should enjoy more protections and tax benefits because they usually have children. The court rejected that reasoning, saying that policies favouring families and children "cannot be promoted by discriminating against civil unions," the report says.
The Merkel government has been criticized for failing to lead on the issue, with the political opposition suggesting that the ruling coalition wants to avoid the prospect of a backlash from its voter base, and instead let the court take the lead.