First Orthodox Christian country: Greece legalise same-sex marriage

Greece has made history by becoming the first Christian Orthodox nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The landmark reform was passed by the Athens parliament, resulting in scenes of both celebration and controversy throughout the country.

In an uncommon display of parliamentary consensus, 176 MPs from various political backgrounds voted in favor of the bill, while 76 opposed it, two abstained, and 46 were not present. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, visibly emotional, observed the proceedings from the galleries above.

Prominent gay activist Stella Belia expressed the significance of the legislation, which not only permits same-sex couples to have civil ceremonies but also enables them to adopt children. Belia referred to it as a “historic moment,” emphasizing the long-awaited nature of the reform.

The vote followed two days of intense debate and weeks of public discord. Supporters hailed the reform as “bold” and “long overdue,” while opponents, including the influential Orthodox church, criticized it as “antisocial” and “unchristian.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, despite facing resistance within his own party, championed the bill, asserting that it would address a “serious inequality for our democracy.” In an impassioned speech, Mitsotakis emphasized that conservatism should not be synonymous with antiquated views incompatible with modern society. He framed the legislation as aligning Greece with 36 other countries that had already legalized same-sex marriage.

Resistance came from within the prime minister’s party, with some MPs expressing concerns based on the socially conservative sentiments of their constituents. Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras argued against the introduction of same-sex marriage, stating it was not a human right.

The law, however, secured passage with the backing of opposition parties, including Syriza, led by Stefanos Kasselakis, Greece’s first gay political leader. Despite supporting the bill, Syriza criticized its limitations, particularly the ban on same-sex couples pursuing parenthood through surrogacy.

The legislation faced criticism from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, who found it imperfect and accused it of perpetuating discrimination. Despite these reservations, the bill’s passage marks a historic step for LGBTQ+ rights in Greece. The Orthodox church had threatened to excommunicate lawmakers supporting the measure, and far-right groups expressed strong opposition.

While Mitsotakis acknowledged the imperfections of the bill, he emphasized that barriers would be removed, and Greece would now proudly join the ranks of EU countries with legalized marriage equality. The prime minister hailed the legislation as a milestone for human rights, portraying Greece as a progressive and democratic country committed to European values.

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