The German parliament just voted to legalise gay marriage

Rainbow flags fly at a Gay Pride celebration in Berlin in 2011.
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Germany’s parliament has passed legislation to legalise gay marriage – but Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measures.

Members of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower chamber, voted for a proposed gay marriage law by 393 votes to 226.

Soon after the votes were in on Friday morning, Merkel admitted that she was among the social conservatives in her Christian Democratic Union party who opposed the law.

Gay marriage will not become law in Germany until it passes the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper chamber, which is due to vote on the matter next week. The chamber has previously passed measures in favour of gay marriage, so the bill is likely to pass.

Gay couples in Germany are currently allowed to form civil partnerships, but the new law will allow them to be considered married in the same way as heterosexual couples.

The text of the draft law says: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex.”

Although Merkel personally opposed legalising gay marriage, the vote was only possible because she allowed it.

The chancellor dropped her long-standing opposition to passing legislation on the issue earlier this week, telling her MPs that they should “follow their conscience” and vote for the issue if they want to.

She told an event earlier in the week that she had softened her stance after meeting a lesbian couple in her constituency who inspired her by raising eight foster children by themselves.