(German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leader Angela Merkel waves before a party board meeting in Berlin, March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have called on parliament to grant gay couples the same tax benefits as married heterosexuals, a shift for the conservative party that has fuelled anger among their Bavarian coalition partners.

Family Minister Kristina Schroeder has backed a call from a group of 13 CDU lawmakers who are appealing for a change in the law to put gay couples on an equal footing in terms of tax breaks, saying now was the right time for a change.

“In lesbian and gay life partnerships, people take long-term responsibility for each another and live according to conservative values,” said Schroeder.

Same sex partnerships have been legal in Germany since 2001, but gay couples do not enjoy the same tax benefits as heterosexuals.