"No, I do not welcome changing the words," Steinmeier told the Saarbruecker Zeitung newspaper, when asked a corresponding question.
The initiative was proposed by Kristin Rose-Moehring, Germany's commissioner for family affairs, who recommended, in particular, to change the word "fatherland" to "homeland," and "brotherly" to "courageously."
These suggestions sparked an immediate gender debate on social media. Rose-Moehring reportedly hoped to make the anthem's lyrics less male-focused ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, with the idea being inspired by recently adopted gender-neutral phrases in the national anthems of Canada and Austria.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday, commenting on the initiative, that Chancellor Angela Merkel was satisfied with the existing lyrics of the anthem.