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11 Jan, 2024 06:32

Greek PM seeks to legalize same-sex marriage

The prime minister says his government will soon submit legislation, despite resistance from lawmakers and the Orthodox Church
Greek PM seeks to legalize same-sex marriage

Greece’s center-right government is planning to submit a draft law allowing same-sex marriage, despite long-standing opposition from the country’s influential Orthodox Church and lawmakers. In an interview with the state-run ERT broadcaster on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced: “What we are going to legislate is equality in marriage.” He did not specify a timeframe, but said it will “not be long.”

“We will remove any discrimination concerning sexual orientation in the issue of marital relationship,” Mitsotakis said, while clarifying that the bill would allow child adoption, but not surrogate parenthood, for same-sex couples.

“The idea of women who are turned into child-producing machines on demand… it’s not going to happen,” he said.

The bill is expected to divide Mitsotakis's conservative New Democracy party, with some lawmakers opposing any such changes. Mitsotakis said he would not “force” them to back the legislation, and would seek cross-party support. The issue is a priority for the main opposition party, Syriza, whose leader Stefanos Kasselakis is openly gay, and says he and his husband – whom he married in New York in October – want to become parents through surrogacy.

Greece legalized same-sex civil partnerships in 2015, providing such couples with some rights and benefits, but they are currently not allowed to adopt children. Allowing same-sex marriage was a key campaign promise by Mitsotakis, who was re-elected last year. Since 2021, Mitsotakis has introduced a number of reforms including lifting a ban on homosexual men making blood donations, and banning so-called sex normalizing surgeries on children.

The reforms have been staunchly opposed by the Orthodox Church of Greece, which has significant influence in society and politics. About 80-90% of the country's 11 million people identify as Greek Orthodox. Mitsotakis said that under the plans, same-sex weddings will be civil unions and not conducted in churches, explaining: “I do not ask things from the Church which I know it cannot do.”

49% of Greeks oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, with 35 % in favor according to an opinion poll this week by national pollster Alco. As of January 2024, 20 European countries legally recognize and perform same-sex marriages.