In landmark change, Greece legalises same-sex marriage

The Greek parliament passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage making it the first majority Orthodox Christian country to establish marriage equality for all, CNN reported.

ANI | Updated: 16-02-2024 12:39 IST | Created: 16-02-2024 12:39 IST
In landmark change, Greece legalises same-sex marriage
Same-sex couples celebrating after landmark decision by Greek Parliament (Photo credit: Reuters). Image Credit: ANI
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The Greek parliament passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage making it the first majority Orthodox Christian country to establish marriage equality for all, CNN reported. The decision hailed as a 'landmark victory' for human rights in Greece, was supported by 176 out of 300 lawmakers in parliament while 76 voted against the change.

This follows months of polarised political and public discourse. The change has been welcomed as a long-awaited vindication by the country's LGBTQ+ couples. Taking to X, Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, "This is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today's Greece - a progressive, and democratic country, passionately committed to European values."

Andrea Gilbert a founding member of Athens Pride, now approaching its 20th year, said, "We started as an invisible, marginalized community. We continued to vote. Paid our taxes. Campaigned. The legislation provides a legal basis to further build on. It is particularly significant for young couples." Notably, parental and children's rights are a cornerstone of the legislation, which will allow same-sex couples to adopt and receive full parental recognition, according to CNN.

Although Greece introduced civil partnerships for gay couples nearly a decade ago under the left-wing Syriza government, only the biological parents of children in those relationships were recognized as legal guardians. Now, same-sex parents can both be recognized as legal parents to their children. "The new law will finally provide same-sex parents some peace of mind on fundamental issues including parental rights to a surviving parent in the event of their partner's death," said Katerina Trimmi, a member of the Greek National Commission of Human Rights and a lawyer from the organization Rainbow Families. She noted however that such parents will need to go through formal adoption procedures, saying that parental rights could have been established "in a simpler way."

Same-sex couples have also been granted adoption rights in Greece, but can't have a baby through surrogacy. Like in much of the European Union, surrogacy remains a thorny issue and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who tabled the legislation as "a matter of equality," clarified early on that this was not something he was willing to tackle, CNN reported.

"The idea of women who are turned into child-producing machines on demand...that is not going to happen." However, the new legislation does recognize the status of existing offspring, including those adopted or born to surrogates abroad.

The build-up to the vote has been an 'uphill battle' involving high emotions. It was never going to be easy. In Greece, the push came from a centre-right party with many of its voters supporting traditional family values. Notably, 15 of the 27 EU members have already legalized same-sex marriage and Mitsotakis, empowered by a recent fresh mandate, stuck to his guns to see the bill through, signalling his intention for his government to be further aligned with the more progressive EU forces.

Polls show that Greek society at its core, remains a country of traditional family values and structures, while it continues to lag other Western countries in issues of gender equality. In 2022, Athens placed last in the EU's Gender Equality Index with only slight improvement in 2023, according to CNN. A recent poll carried out by Metron Analysis showed that although 62 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of same-sex marriage, 69 per cent were against same-sex parenthood. Surveys directed exclusively at young respondents showed higher support rates.

On the other hand, the same-sex marriage bill has also drawn the wrath of the influential Greek Orthodox Church to which more than 80 per cent of the population belongs. In a letter addressed to all 300 of Greece's parliamentarians ahead of the vote, the Church's governing body said the bill places the rights of homosexual adults above the interests of future children, by allowing them "to be parented by same-sex couples and grow up without a father or mother in an environment of confusing gender roles."

According to CNN, senior bishops have even threatened mobilizations. At a protest rally outside parliament, crucifix-holding protesters, including robed priests, joined far-right supporters in chanting: "Take your hands off our children." (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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