BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time seems to have softened her previous opposition toward legalizing same-sex marriages.

Merkel said Monday that German lawmakers could possibly take up the issue in the future as a “question of conscience,” meaning parliamentarians could vote based on their individual beliefs and regardless of what their party platforms say.

Germany’s national election is coming up in September, and all of the country’s main parties support of same-sex marriage except Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party and the nationalist Afd.

The German news agency dpa reports that a parliamentary vote based on conscience would most likely lead to a majority deciding in favor of same-sex marriage.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remain illegal.