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German court rules gay couples entitled to equal treatment on inheritance tax

Germany’s highest court has ruled that gay couples in civil partnerships are entitled to the same inheritance tax rules as married heterosexual couples. The AP reports the Federal Constitutional Court decided in favor of two homosexual plaintiffs after each had lost their partner and contested rules under which they had to pay inheritance tax as if they were distant relatives of the deceased.

The court found that there is no reason to discriminate against people in registered homosexual partnerships. Such unions have been possible in Germany since 2001 but legally fall short of marriage. At present, a spouse pays an inheritance tax of between 7 and 30 per cent, but gay partners must pay between 17 and 50 per cent.