Germany could be one step closer to legalising same-sex marriage with the country’s Social Democrats (SDP) pushing for a vote on the matter this Friday, according to Reuters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel—whose conservative Christian Democrat party has historically opposed gay marriage—has appeared to have relaxed her stance on the issue.
While speaking in Berlin at a talk organised by Brigitte magazine, Ms Merkel said: "I would like to lead the discussion more into a situation where it is a question of conscience rather than something I push through with a majority vote.”
While she did not explicitly voice her support for same-sex marriage, the German leader did concede that some of her preconceptions about the issue had been challenged after having dinner with a lesbian couple and their eight adopted children.
“I had a life-changing experience in my home constituency,” she said at the event.
“If the youth welfare service entrusts a lesbian couple with eight foster children, then the state could no longer use child welfare as an argument against adoptions,” she said after seeing how the children were being cared for in a loving environment.
During her election campaign four years ago, Merkel spoke out against same-sex marriage—citing child welfare as the reason.
It has been widely reported that the reason for the Chancellor's change of heart is that she wants to keep gay marriage out of the election campaign—with Germany heading to the polls in just three months.
Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz wants to push a vote on the issue through this Friday, before the parliament’s summer break.
“I hope our colleagues in the conservatives will cooperate," he said.
On Twitter, Schulz wrote: "We will push through marriage equality in Germany. This week."
A study by Germany’s Anti-Discrimination Agency showed that 83 percent of those surveyed were in favour of same-sex marriage and 95 per cent believed it was a good thing that gays and lesbians were protected from discrimination.
The study found that “the younger and more educated the interviewees were, the less prejudiced they were against same-sex marriage.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #Ehefueralle (marriage for all) has been trending with supporters of same-sex marriage in Germany hopeful that this week will bring meaningful change.