Thursday, October 22, 2009

A bad day for the German finance minister - a good day for human rights

Today was another bad day for the German finance minister, and a good day for human rights for gay people in Germany.
The constitutional court ruled that gay partners that have a registered partnership (just like a marriage - but with another name) have the right on a survival pension when one the partners dies. Until now, the state had refused such a pension to these people, because "they were not married".
To my surprise the argument of the state during the court trial was that the constitution has a paragraph about the "special protection of the family", so married people are entitled to the pension when one of the partners dies, but as gay partners are officially not a "family", they must be excluded.
The judges however ruled that this paragraph in the constitution may not be used (or abused) to discriminate people that choose (deliberately or not) for another form of living together. Furthermore (and that is important for other areas) they stated that "the only difference between a registered partnership and a marriage is that the latter is explicitely named in the constitution".
Another interesting case about human rights has just started for the constitutional court: families that live of social security get about 8 Euros for a child to live from per day. This amount has been calculated "scientifically", but does not include things like doing sports, reading (!), dipers, and many other things children need. As the German constitution states that the government is responsible that noone in Germany must live in a state of undignity, this "scientific calculation" has now been questioned and gone to the highest court.
It will take a number of months before the court judges, but at the opening session the president of the court already stated that he also wants to test the daily rates for adults.

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