Germany’s parliament has voted by a wide margin to legalise same-sex marriage.
The parliament voted by 393 votes in favour of same-sex unions to 226 against.
It comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel did an about-face that freed members of her governing conservative bloc to follow their personal conscience rather than the party line.
Why did Merkel have a change of heart?
Some think because she has an eye on the upcoming election in Germany. However, analysts are saying the issue will likely have faded from voters’ minds by the time the poll comes round in September.
Her announcement on Monday that she would allow lawmakers to vote on same-sex marriage according to their individual conscience drew the anger of some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.
This is a rare victory for the SPD, isn’t it?
Yes, and a much-needed boost. Merkel’s Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners are trailing the Conservatives in the polls.
They had seized on Merkel’s surprise comments on Monday to call for an early vote before parliament’s summer recess.
The party has seen a short-lived surge in support earlier this year evaporate in recent months.
How did Angela Merkel vote?
After the landmark vote, Merkel told reporters she had voted against the measure because she believed that marriage as defined under German law was between a man and a woman.
However, she said her decision was a personal one, adding that she had become convinced in recent years that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.
“I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between the different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace,” Merkel said.
Is Germany unusual in taking this decision?
No. Many other European countries, including France, Britain and Spain, have already legalised same-sex marriage.
So when will this become law?
The measure is likely to be signed into law by the president some time after July 7.