Merkel: No need to make German national anthem gender-neutral

Merkel: No need to make German national anthem gender-neutral
German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned down a proposal to change lyrics in the country's national anthem. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected a suggestion from the country’s equality commissioner to change the national anthem to make it gender-neutral.

The “Song of Germany” has been the country’s anthem since 1922.

Words like “fatherland” and “brotherland” were on the chopping block, to be replaced with the term “homeland.” Another suggestion in the proposal was changing the line “brotherly with heart and hand” to “courageously with heart and hand.”

In a letter to family ministry staff, equality commissioner and Social Democrat Kristin Rose-Moehring asked, “Why don’t we make our national anthem gender sensitive? It wouldn’t hurt, would it?”

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Monday that “the chancellor is very happy with our nice national anthem as it is in its traditional form and doesn’t see any need for change.”

News of the proposal prompted a response from an opposing party, the Alternative for Germany party. A branch of the AfD tweeted Monday that the suggests were “completely over the top, and not even an April Fool’s joke.”

Changes were made to the German anthem in 1991, after reunification. Reuters reported that the lines scratched at that time were “Germany, Germany above all else” and “German women, German loyalty, German wine and German song.”

The most recent proposal is part of a larger push for gender-neutral terms to replace words deemed to be discriminatory. Just last month, Canada took steps to change their national anthem by replacing the line “in all they sons command” with “in all of us command.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the change “another positive step towards gender equality.”

Other countries have reconsidered anthem lyrics over the years due to political pressures or messaging. Austria made changes to their anthem after deeming it “sexist” in 2011, and Peruvians made a push to change their national song around the same time, saying it was too negative.

Merkel is expected to be reelected as chancellor, and her conservative party was just bolstered after two-thirds of the Social Democrats joined in their alliance. The new German government is slated to take office March 14.

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