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Greece says 'yes' to same-sex marriage

Photo: Michael Varaklas Associated Press When the result was announced, dozens of people burst into joy in front of the parliament in central Athens.

Yannick Pasquet – Agence France-Presse in Athens

February 15, 2024

  • Europe

Greece said “yes” Thursday to homosexual marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples, a major societal reform carried by the conservative prime minister who saw it as “a turning point for human rights.”

Once the law is promulgated, this Mediterranean country, in which the influential Orthodox Church was fiercely opposed to reform, will become the 37th country in the world, the 17th country in the European Union and the first Orthodox Christian country to legalize adoption for same-sex parents.

Of the 254 deputies present in the unicameral parliament, 176 voted for, 76 against and two abstained, after two days of a sometimes heated debate.

When the result was announced, dozens of people, waving rainbow flags, burst into joy in front of the parliament in central Athens.

For LGBT+ associations, Greece experienced “a historic day” with this vote, according to Adriana Zahari, a 22-year-old student present in front of Parliament.

“We are so happy with this result, we have been waiting for it for so long,” said the young woman.

Greece says 'yes' to same-sex marriage

Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis Agence France-Presse People react after the vote on same-sex marriage in Athens.

The right-wing Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, hailed “a turning point for human rights” in a “progressive and democratic country, passionately attached to European values” at a time when the European Parliament, in a recent resolution, expressed alarm at “the very serious threats weighing on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Greece”, particularly around the decline in press freedom.

“From tomorrow one more barrier between us [citizens, Editor’s note] will be removed and will become a bridge of coexistence in a free State between free citizens,” he also assured during an intervention in front of deputies earlier today.

There was little doubt that the bill would pass due to the support of several left-wing opposition parties. But Mr. Mitsotakis was faced with rebellion from the most conservative wing of his New Democracy (ND) party, opposed to this reform.

Lighthouse measure

Comfortably re-elected last year, he made same-sex marriage a flagship measure of his second term.

It “considerably improves the lives of our fellow citizens” who are homosexuals and their children, he judged, recalling that this was “an existing social reality” and that by voting for homosexual marriage, the MPs were going to lift “a serious inequality for our democracy”. Since 2015, Greece has had a civil union, but it does not offer the same legal guarantees as civil marriage.

The Prime Minister also insisted on the need to put an end to grotesque situations regarding same-sex parenthood.

Because until now only the biological parent has rights over the child. In the event of the death of the other parent, the State withdraws custody from the other parent. And the children of two fathers cannot obtain identity papers, the name of a mother being obligatory in civil status.

“Historical moment”

For Konstantinos Androulakis, a 46-year-old Greek married in the United Kingdom to Michael and father of two children aged 6 and 11, Greece is experiencing “a historic moment”.

“It’s an important springboard,” this London consultant who came to Greece for the occasion told AFP, expressing the hope that in the future, “the rights of LGTB+ people will improve in Greece significantly. general.”

Some, however, deplored that the bill does not grant surrogacy (GPA) to homosexual couples. Most of the bitter debate which has agitated the country in recent weeks has concerned the question of same-sex parenthood. Opinion studies showed that Greeks were generally in favor of same-sex marriage, but opposed to adoption by same-sex couples.

In a country with an overwhelming Orthodox majority, the Church was totally opposed to the project.

“Children have an innate need and therefore the right to grow up with a male father and a female mother,” assures the Holy Synod, which sent a letter to all deputies.

But only around 4,000 opponents, led in particular by Niki, the far-right party close to Russia, found themselves on Sunday in front of Parliament brandishing icons of the Virgin and Christian crosses.

Quite a symbol: in September, Stefanos Kasselakis, who publicly displays his homosexuality and recently married his partner in the United States, took the reins of the left-wing Syriza party, the leading opposition force to parliament.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116