Germany has just become the 23rd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.

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Germany’s parliament has voted by a wide margin to legalise same-sex marriage following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s about-face on the issue of same-sex parents, which freed members of her ruling conservative bloc to vote their personal conscience rather than party line.

Merkel, who will seek a fourth term in a national election on September 24, told reporters after the landmark decision she had voted against the measure because she believes marriage, as defined under German law, is between a man and a woman.

germany same-sex marriage
Germany joins other European countries, including France and Britain, who have legalised same-sex marriage. Image via Getty.

But she said her decision was a personal one, adding that she has become convinced in recent years that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

"I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between the different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace," Merkel said.

The parliament voted by 393 votes in favour of same-sex marriage to 226 against.

germany same-sex marriage
The parliament voted by 393 votes in favour of same-sex marriage to 226 against. Image via Getty.

Many other European countries, including France, Britain and Spain have already legalised same-sex marriage.

Merkel's announcement on Monday that she would allow lawmakers to vote on same-sex marriage according to their individual conscience drew the ire of some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.

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But political analysts say the issue will likely have faded from voters' minds by the time the September election comes around.

The measure will likely be signed into law by the president sometime after July 7.

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