Greece approves marriage equality

The approval came despite opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church and makes Greece the 16th country in the European Union with marriage equality.

Greece has approved marriage equality, the first Orthodox Christian country to do so.

Parliament voted Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage, with 176 members in favor, 76 against, and two abstaining, major media outlets report.

Greece “is proud to become the 16th (European Union) country to legislate marriage equality,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted after the vote. “This is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today’s Greece — a progressive, and democratic country, passionately committed to European values.”

The nation has offered civil partnerships to same-sex couples for a decade, but those came with parental rights only for the biological parents of the couple’s children, CNN notes. Now both spouses will be legally recognized as parents. But same-sex couples still won’t be able to access surrogacy in Greece, although they can be legally recognized as parents of children born by surrogacy abroad.

Polls indicated a majority of Greeks supported marriage equality, but there was strong opposition from conservative lawmakers and the Greek Orthodox Church. Ahead of the vote, church leaders wrote a letter to Parliament saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would let children “be parented by same-sex couples and grow up without a father or mother in an environment of confusing gender roles.” More than 80 percent of Greeks belong to the church, but its stance on marriage equality does not seem to be popular.

Conservative politicians opposing marriage equality included Vassilis Stigas, who said legalizing same-sex marriage would “open the gates of hell and perversion,” the Associated Press reports.

But there was much positive reaction to the approval. “We started as an invisible, marginalized community,” Andrea Gilbert, a founding member of Athens Pride, told CNN. “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.”

Sergio Berezovski, a 20-year-old student who was outside Parliament as the vote was taken, told CNN the approval was a “true historic moment,” adding, “I can actually go out, be myself, and have the same rights as the rest of the people in society. I just feel seen —that’s the most important part.”

by Trudy Ring
Source – The Advocate