Angela Merkel has insisted that marriage should only be between a man and woman.
The German Chancellor backed equal benefits for same-sex couples - such as tax breaks - and said that while discrimination should be “eliminated" she drew a "difference" between civil partnerships and marriage.
“I’m someone who is very supportive of us eliminating all discrimination. We have come a long way; when I remember, 25 years ago, many people didn’t dare to say that they are gay or lesbian,” she said, according to the Huffington Post.
“For me, personally, marriage is a man and a woman living together. That is my concept, but I civil partnerships."
Ms Merkel went on to say stress that marriage should be strictly defined as between a man and a woman, adding: "I am for registered civil partnerships. I am for our not having any discrimination in tax legislation. And wherever we still find discrimination, we will continue to dismantle it,” according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Explaining further, the German leader said: "I don’t want discrimination and [I want] equality, but I make a difference at some point."
In May, Ms Merkel ruled out introducing same-sex marriage in Germany following the referendum in Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Chancellor told Reuters news agency at the time: “Today was an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that… but same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government.”
A spokesman for UK LGBT charity Stonewall said: "Can someone really support ‘eliminating all discrimination’ if they believe that same-sex unions shouldn’t be labelled as ‘marriages’?
“It must be a quiet week for Angela if her current concern is synonyms."
Merkel, a former scientist, is the daughter of a Lutheran minister and has described herself as a member of the evangelical church.