Germany to allow lesbian parents to be co-mothers
Germany will soon allow a child born to lesbian parents– the biological mother and her female partner– to be co-mothers via a parentage law to be submitted to the cabinet.
This move will reflect the diversity of German society to include “patchwork families,” said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht.
Germany had recognize same-sex relationships in 2001, and legalized same-sex marriage in 2017 despite heavy opposition from conservative politicians and the Catholic Church.
Germany’s move to allow lesbian parents
Lambrecht said in a brief quote on the Justice Ministry’s website that the focus of the law should be on the well-being of the child, especially if their parents are in a same-sex relationship.
“The law must respond to these diverse forms of family life,” she said. She added that children were best nurtured in uncomplicated settings.
Previously, Lambrecht said in an August interview with the German Catholic KNA news agency that lesbian parents should “in future be able to have another woman as a mother in addition to the mother of birth.”
They should be able to do this, Lambrecht said, “without having to go through an elaborate adoption procedure.”
With same-sex marriage legal in Germany, LGBTQ couples can now adopt as only married couples are eligible– though same-sex couples still face legal and cultural barriers.
Presently, a married man can be recognized as the father of a child even if he isn’t the biological parent under the concept of fiktiver vaterschaft, or notional paternity.
German law only exclusive for lesbian parents
For married lesbian couples, the woman who is not the birth mother cannot be recognized as the child’s parent from birth.
But the proposed law will change this for lesbian parents specifically. Meanwhile, the current adoption procedure would still apply for male gay couples.
Lambrecht said a second man with a biological father would still have to apply to adopt the child via the commonly used German family court procedures.
This follows Paragraph 1591 of Germany’s civil law code that states that the “mother of a child is the woman who gave birth to it.”
Lambrecht said, “We want to adhere to the principle that the first parental place is reserved for the biological mother who gave birth to the child. Her presence is a basic requirement.”
“Therefore, for male couples the only option left is [still] adoption,” she added.
Discussions of Germany’s family law reform
Germany’s Legal Tribune Online (LTO) reported last August that eight family law experts spent a year and a half advising the federal Justice Ministry on parental custody law, which was last amended in 1998.
“The planned reform of parental custody law from the BMJV [justice and consumer ministry] has caused consternation among family law experts,” the LTO reported.
LTO added that: “Contrary to the recommendations of a high-profile working group, there will still be no automatic parental custody for unmarried fathers.”
However, opposition Free Democrat (FDP) lawmaker Katrin Helling-Plahr had called the reform of the law as “a pure show-window” or Reförmchen, which is a German diminutive word for marginalized reform.
Helling-Plahr also said Lambrecht was influenced by feminists and was diluting the expert panel’s recommendations, which were drafted last year.