Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption

A person hangs a LGBTQ pride flag on a light pole outside the Greek Parliament during a gathering with fellow supporters of the LGBTQ community as lawmakers vote on a same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples bill on February 15, 2024 in Athens. Greece's Parliament was set to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption today, a landmark reform promoted by the conservative government over the opposition of the country's powerful Orthodox Church. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
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Greece’s parliament has made a historic decision by overwhelmingly adopting a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage and adoption. This landmark reform, promoted by the conservative government, marks a significant step forward for human rights in the country, despite facing opposition from the powerful Orthodox Church.

Once the law is promulgated, Greece will become the 37th country in the world and the first Orthodox Christian nation to legalize adoption by same-sex families. This progressive move reflects the values of a modern Greece, committed to European principles and promoting equality for all its citizens.

The bill received strong support from the New Democracy party, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. With 176 votes out of the 245 MPs present, the bill was approved after two days of debates. Mitsotakis hailed this moment as a milestone for human rights, emphasizing Greece’s commitment to progress and democracy.

As the result was announced, dozens of people waving rainbow flags gathered in front of the parliament building in central Athens to celebrate this significant victory. The support from opposition parties ensured the bill’s passage, despite expectations that some ruling party legislators would oppose it. Mitsotakis, who personally championed the bill, urged lawmakers to boldly address the inequality that had rendered same-sex families “invisible” in Greek democracy.

This reform is expected to significantly improve the lives of many citizens, without taking away anything from others. LGBTQ associations have hailed the vote as historic, as same-sex families have faced administrative challenges and discrimination under existing family law. Presently, non-biological parents have no say in medical decisions for their children, and children do not automatically inherit from their non-biological parents. Additionally, if a biological parent dies, the state can separate children from the surviving parent.

While some members of Mitsotakis’ conservative New Democracy party were expected to oppose the bill, support from the main opposition leftist Syriza party, led by Stefanos Kasselakis, who is gay, as well as other smaller parties, made defeat nearly impossible. The bill only required a simple majority in the 300-member parliament to pass.

However, the Church of Greece, which has close ties to many government MPs, expressed its strong opposition to the reform. The Church argued that it would lead to confusion and condemned children to grow up in an environment of uncertainty. Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of the church, criticized the proposed law as an attempt to disrupt the social cohesion of the homeland.

Despite the opposition, the voices in favor of equality prevailed. Thousands of Greeks took to the streets to demonstrate against the measure, with some brandishing religious icons and crucifixes. However, the passage of the bill sends a clear message that Greece is moving forward in embracing diversity and promoting equal rights for all its citizens.

It is important to note that this reform will benefit a relatively small number of children and couples. Prime Minister Mitsotakis emphasized this point, highlighting that the changes are aimed at rectifying a serious inequality and ensuring a fair and just society. This progressive step aligns with Mitsotakis’ promise to enact the reform during his second four-year term as the country’s leader.

In conclusion, Greece’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption is a significant milestone in the country’s journey towards equality and inclusivity. This landmark reform not only reflects the progressive values of a modern Greece but also sets an example for other nations, particularly those with strong religious influences, to consider embracing the rights of same-sex couples and their families.

Source: The Manila Times

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