Germany to vote on equal marriage as soon as Friday after Angela Merkel drops opposition

Germany could vote on a bill to legalise equal marriage as early as Friday (29 June) after Chancellor Angela Merkel promised her party a free vote on the issue. German MPs are expected to vote on the issue in the Bundestag just one day before the summer recess after it was put on the agenda on Wednesday by the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partner's of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. "The path to equality is open," said the lower house legislative committee's chairwoman, Renate Künast of the Green party, in a tweet on Wednesday (June 28). The move comes just days after Angela Merkel said she would allow CDU lawmakers a free vote on the issue, paving the way for marriage equality for thousands of same-sex couples in Germany, where civil unions were legalised in 2001. The Chancellor's CDU-led government has long stood in the way of marriage equality owing to strong opposition from the conservative alliance’s right wing. Merkel herself had previously expressed opposition to same-sex marriage, citing concerns for children, but claimed earlier this week that she had undergone a “life-changing experience” after meeting a lesbian couple who had adopted eight kids. Some argue the Chancellor's change in heart is politically motivated: She is seeking re-election for a fourth term in September, and as well as polls indicating widespread public support for the marriage equality, her SDP partners announced just last week that they would its legalisation a condition of any future coalition talks. With CDP members now free to vote with their conscience, Friday's vote is expected to pass easily with support from the SDP and the opposition Left Party and Greens. More stories: The top 10 most underrated songs of the past decade Donald Trump finally mentioned 'the gay' - but it wasn't to celebrate Pride month