Greek lawmakers set to vote on legalization of same-sex marriage in historic move for an Orthodox Christian nation

Greek lawmakers set to vote on legalization of same-sex marriage in historic move for an Orthodox Christian nation

Greek lawmakers set to vote on legalization of same-sex marriage in historic move for an Orthodox Christian nation

Greece’s parliament is poised to vote on Thursday to legalize same-sex civil marriage, marking a historic moment for an Orthodox Christian nation, despite opposition from the influential Greek Church.

During the second day of debate on the bill, opinion polls suggest that the proposed reform has narrow majority support among Greeks. However, the issue has not sparked deep divisions in a country more concerned about economic challenges.

Greek lawmakers set to vote on legalization of same-sex marriage in historic move for an Orthodox Christian nation

The groundbreaking bill, put forth by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right government, enjoys the backing of four left-wing parties, including the main opposition Syriza. With this support, the bill is expected to pass comfortably in the 300-seat parliament. 

While some majority and left-wing lawmakers may abstain or vote against the reform, their numbers are not enough to thwart the bill. Conversely, three small far-right parties and the Communist Party have rejected the proposed law.

Both proponents and opponents of the bill have announced plans to hold separate demonstrations outside parliament on Thursday.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis addressed lawmakers ahead of the vote, stating, “People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us. And with them, many children will finally find their rightful place.” He emphasized the need for equal legal opportunities for both parents in same-sex couples, highlighting issues such as childcare, travel, and access to healthcare.

The bill would grant full parental rights to married same-sex partners with children. However, it excludes gay couples from parenthood through surrogate mothers within Greece, a privilege currently available to women unable to conceive for health reasons.

New Democracy lawmaker Maria Syrengela, representing the governing party, expressed that the reform would rectify a longstanding injustice for same-sex couples and their children.

Reflecting on the challenges faced by these individuals over the years, entangled in bureaucratic processes, Syrengela emphasized the need for change.

While most Greeks support same-sex marriages, polls indicate resistance to extending parenthood through surrogacy to male couples. 

Same-sex civil partnerships have been legal in Greece since 2015, but they only granted legal guardianship to biological parents, leaving their partners in bureaucratic uncertainty.

The primary opposition to the new bill comes from the traditionalist Church of Greece, which also opposes heterosexual civil marriage. 

Church officials criticize the bill’s impact on traditional family values and fear it could pave the way for surrogacy rights for gay couples.

Archbishop Ieronymos of the Orthodox Church of Greece proposed a roll call ballot to allow constituents to see how their lawmakers vote. This proposal is set to be enacted following motions by far-right parties and, independently, by Syriza.

Syriza’s leader, Stefanos Kasselakis, who is gay, has warned of disciplinary action against any Syriza lawmaker who opposes the bill.

Small protests against the proposed law have been staged by church supporters and conservative groups, with far-right members planning a demonstration outside parliament.

Despite these tensions, politically, the same-sex marriage law is not expected to harm Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ government, which won re-election last year. However, the government faces challenges from ongoing farmer protests and opposition to the planned overhaul of university education.

Nevertheless, parliament is anticipated to approve the university bill later this month, with most Greeks supporting it, according to opinion polls.

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