German court: Cantor could not be fired for surrogacy


Central Europe


Gerd-Peter Münden. Photo Facebook, Gerd-Peter Münden

Earlier this year, a Cathedral cantor was fired by the Landeskirche Braunschweig in Germany because he and his married partner wanted to commission a surrogate mother to fulfil their wish for children. Now, a court decided that his dismissal was invalid.

Braunschweig regional church must re-employ its cathedral cantor, Gerd-Peter Münden, a judge from the Braunschweig Labour Court ruled. That is reported by Evangelische Zeitung. The judge said that Münden did not violate his duty of loyalty and that there were no other reasons for the termination of his employment. However, the church's lawyer announced that he would appeal the verdict. According to the judicial expert, the cantor's behaviour shook the church's credibility.

The Braunschweig regional church had fired Münden because it deemed commercial surrogacy irreconcilable with the ethical principles of the church. The 56-year-old Münden and his husband (33) from Colombia wanted to hire two surrogate mothers in Latin America. The cantor argued that he would never resort to commercial surrogacy. "I would never take advantage of the economic hardship of women to fulfil my own desire to have children", he said.

His lawyer, Bernhard Baumann-Czichon, stressed that Münden had not taken any concrete steps in the process for surrogacy. He only considered it, Baumann asserted, adding that only actions can lead to sanctions. "We don't want any thought police."

However, the leadership of the Braunschweig church argued that commercial surrogacy already happens when clinics and lawyers get involved, and money flows. Furthermore, the church's lawyer points out that Münden had already taken concrete steps to advance his plans for surrogacy. He had already travelled to Colombia, selected the women and deposited his sperm donations.

Yet, the judge now ruled this is not sufficient ground for dismissal. According to him, Münden cannot have damaged the church's values by just having a plan for surrogacy, which is not yet put into practice. The court ruled that it is also no criminal offence not to abandon a project and think about it.

The church and Münden have come to an agreement where the church pays Münden 1,400 euros a month. The cantor now works as a music teacher, which pays him 1,400 euros a month less than his job as a cantor. In return, the church does not have to re-employ the cantor as long as the legal dispute is not settled.



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