Gay activists in Athens march with rainbow flags. EPA-EFE/GEORGE VITSARAS


Greece becomes first Orthodox Christian nation to approve same-sex marriage


The Greek Parliament has approved same-sex marriage, despite strong objections from the Christian Orthodox Church.

It is now lawful for same-sex couples to get married and adopt children in the country.

A majority of 176 of 300 parliamentarians supported the decision, despite objections from Conservative groups and Orthodox Christian clergy.

After the vote, pro-LGBTQ activists were seen cheering in the streets of Athens, celebrating the decision.

The bill was introduced by the centre-right administration and supported by left-wing parties following months of divisive political and public debate.

Main opposition leftist party Syriza argued same-sex couples should also achieve parenthood through surrogacy, something not in the approved bill.

Greek 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.”

He said the bill ended a “serious inequality for our democracy”.

Andrea Gilbert, a founding member of Athens Pride, said; “We started as an invisible, marginalised 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.”

Gay activist Stella Belia, head of same-sex family support group Rainbow Families, said: “We have waited years for this.”

Much of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party’s core voters are upset by the bill and recent polls have suggested most Greeks do not support the legislation. Up to four in five voters said they were against efforts to open up adoption to gay couples.

On February 14, Archbishop Ieronymos, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, proposed that voting take place via roll call so voters would be able to see exactly how their legislators voted.

Before the vote, Mitsotakis argued: “Conservatism should not be conflated with antiquated views that were out of sync with modern society.”

On February 7, local pollster Zacharias Zoupis told Brussels Signal supporters seemed to be signalling an abandonment of the ND in favour of more right-wing options, such as Hellenic Solution.

Some have speculated that the Government’s efforts to push the bill through are in response to international pressure, with Western European politicians such as French President Emmanuel Macron rumoured to have been keen on seeing the legislation passed.

Others have suggested that Greece’s current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis may hope passage of the bill will better his personal standing within the European Union. Many speculate he has his eye on landing the job of European Council president following the European Parliament elections in June.

Almost 10 years ago, the left-wing Syriza administration legalised civil unions for gay couples in Greece but, until now, the legal guardianship of their children was limited to the biological parents.

Lawmaker Vassilis Stigas, head of the Spartans party, on February 15 described the bill as “sick” and claimed that its adoption would “open the gates of hell and perversion”.