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WorldGreece takes a historic step with the legalization of same-sex marriage

Greece takes a historic step with the legalization of same-sex marriage

After a long debate, the Greek Parliament has approved a bill that legalizes marriage between same-sex couples, a historic step that makes Greece the first Orthodox Christian country in the world to legalize these unions. The result was: 176 votes in favor, 76 against, and 46 abstentions.

The law not only contemplates marriage, but also guarantees a series of rights in family matters for the LGTBI community that until now had not been contemplated, such as recognition as legal guardians of non-biological parents of the same sex or the possibility of adoption. Until now, gay couples only had the right to enter into civil unions, enshrined in a law introduced in 2015 by then-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

In one of his first interventions in Parliament, the conservative Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has assured that this new law “will put an end to inequality”, “will make visible many of the people around us” and “will protect the rights of children”. Mitstotakis – who has faced a great uproar in the ranks of his party, New Democracy, for promoting the measure – considers that the project has been left these days “marred by myths and exaggerations.” He has also referred to the need for an “inclusive society” and the “modernization” of the country’s institutions.

For his part, Stefanos Kasselakis, the leader of the main opposition party, the leftist Syriza, has been pointing out for days that this is an “imperfect” bill, which, however, represents a “big step forward” for society. Helen. Kasselakis had already warned a few weeks ago that he was going to impose party discipline, something that did not sit well with part of the progressive ranks. This Wednesday, he repeated it again: “There will be consequences for those who vote against or abstain.”

A divided Parliament

Few surprises in New Democracy, the party that has governed the country since 2019 and that just a few months ago revalidated the mandate with an absolute majority. The former prime minister and one of the most visible faces of the conservative formation, Antonis Samaras, has voted against, as he had been announcing for days. Samaras’s opposition to the bill was immediate after its publication and during a tough parliamentary intervention he assured that “it is dangerous”, since it can “abolish the nuclear family of father and mother.” Other important figures in the party, such as State Minister Makis Voridis, had announced their abstention.

The parties Heading to Freedom and New Left, a recent split from Syriza, also voted in favor of the law. The far-right parties voted against: Niki, with an ultra-religious and ultra-conservative ideology; Spartans, with a neo-Nazi ideology and a Greek Solution, with an ultra-nationalist and religious nature.

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In fact, since the moment Mitsotakis announced his willingness to modify the regulations, about four weeks ago, some demonstrations against the law have taken place, organized by orthodox religious groups related to the radical right. Last Sunday, around 4,000 people, according to police sources, gathered in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Greek Parliament, to protest against the new law, while the powerful and influential Greek Orthodox Church has read statements against the project in Sunday masses.

The Communist Party (KKE) has also voted against. In a statement prior to the vote, the communists had already assured that the “first basic reason” for their refusal “to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, which establishes shared parental care, is the commercialization of procreation and maternity”. “A second reason, equally basic and interrelated, is that in practice, the articles of the bill circumvent the social right of the child to the motherhood-fatherhood relationship as an evolving biosocial relationship,” they added.

Decades of vindication

For decades, civil marriage between same-sex couples has been one of the main demands of the LGTBI community in the Hellenic country. Same-sex marriage, recognized in 15 EU member states, continues to be a cause of schism in Greek society, where the influence of the conservative Orthodox Church persists.

“Greek society has to face two different issues. On the one hand, the theme of marriage, and on the other, the theme of children. I have the feeling that the problem is not the first, but the second,” lawyer Vassilis Sotiropoulos explained a few days ago. “At this moment there are two trends: that of people who have no problem accepting the complete package of the law that will allow marriages and the recognition of family ties with children, as well as the adoption by couples of the same sex; and that of the people who welcome LGTBIQ+ couples getting married but who do not agree with the aspects related to motherhood and fatherhood. For the second, there is still a part of Greek society that is not prepared for the debate.”

Although it guarantees parental rights, the new law does not contemplate that same-sex couples can opt for assisted reproduction treatments and surrogacy, as is the case with heterosexual couples who cannot conceive biologically. The latter has been one of the most controversial issues in the debate around the bill.

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