German Parliament Legalizes Gay Marriage; All Muslim Lawmakers Vote in Favor

Merkel herself voted against the measure, but paved the way for Friday's vote

People celebrate in front of Germany's lower house of parliament Bundestag after the delegates voted on legalising same-sex marriage, in Berlin, Germany June 30, 2017.
HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS

Germany's parliament voted on Friday to legalize gay marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel did an about-face that freed members of conservative party to vote their "conscience" rather than follow party lines.

Norbert Lammert, president of the parliament, said 393 lawmakers voted to approve the amendment, while 226 voted against and four abstained.

Merkel herself voted against the measure, but paved the way for Friday's vote after saying Monday that lawmakers could take up the issue as a "question of conscience" — freeing members of her conservative coalition, which has been against same-sex marriage, to individually vote for it.

The Green Party, who brought the measure before the chamber, have since confirmed that the party's four Muslim lawmakers, Cem Özdemir, Ekin Deligöz, Özcan Mutlu and Omid Nouripour, all voted for the legislation. 

Aydan Özoğuz, a Muslim MP for the centre-left Social Democratic Party, also voted in favor of the bill as did MP Cemile Giousouf, the first Muslim elected into the Bundestag in 2013, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats. The six lawmakers comprise all of Germany's Muslim MPs - each of whom voted to legalize gay marriage. 

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remain illegal.

All of Merkel's potential coalition partners after the Sept. 4 election, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, have been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.