The Constitutional Court of Germany dismissed a case seeking to grant same-sex couples the right to jointly adopt children on a technicality. LGBT rights activists are maintaining that the same court issued a ruling in February 2013 that effectively allowed such rights.
Conservative politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been accused of deliberate inaction regarding LGBT rights, instead leaving issues to the judges of the Constitutional Court.
Though Germany does not have marriage equality, same-sex couples have had access to registered partnerships since 2001, which provide nearly all of the same rights as marriage, including immigration sponsorship and adoption of stepchildren, although they still lack joint adoption rights. As of a 2013 court ruling, gay and straight couples must also be treated equally with regards to taxation laws.
In February 2013, the Constitutional Court expanded same-sex couples’ stepchild adoption rights to the adoption of a child that one’s civil partner has already adopted, a practice called “successive adoption.”
Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association released a statement expressing its regret that the court declined to issue a ruling, but said that prior rulings make it clear that the court does support equal rights for the LGBT community.
The statement read in part, according to the Chicago Tribune, “Parliament and the government cannot hide behind this formal rejection of the case. The ban on joint adoption by civil couples is effectively meaningless, as partners can circumvent it by adopting a child in succession. This is even possible in the same hearing.”
A previous court ruling declared that a ban on joint adoption only applied to same-sex couples was in violation of the principle of equal treatment, and gave the government until July 2014 to make a change; the left-right coalition under Merkel has promised they will.
The reason given for the rejection was that the case was not thoroughly grounded in the relevant legal arguments.