Close this search box.

Greece to legalize same-sex marriage, adoption: prime minister

by Agence France Presse

ATHENS, Greece: Greece will legalize marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, the prime minister said on Wednesday, but gave no timeframe on the sensitive issue in the staunchly Orthodox Christian state.

“We will legislate equality in marriage,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis told state TV ERT.

But he added: “I want the discussion to mature in society before I submit a proposal to the cabinet.”

The timeframe will “not be long,” he said.

Greek media have speculated that the legislation will be presented before European Parliament elections in June.

The prime minister said the move would benefit “a few children and couples” without impairing the rights of other Greeks.

“Same-sex couples have children, and these children are not going to vanish. But these children do not have equal rights,” he said.

He also stressed the bill will not modify Greece’s existing assisted reproduction rules, which limit parenthood through surrogacy to only single women and straight couples.

“Women turning into child production engines on order… that’s not going to happen,” he said, though children already born through surrogacy, and raised by men, will have full rights.

The bill is expected to split Mitsotakis’s conservative New Democracy party, with fewer than 100 of the party’s 158 lawmakers likely to support it, according to reports.

Mitsotakis on Wednesday said he would not force party discipline on his lawmakers, and noted that they could abstain from the parliamentary vote.

The issue is a priority for the main opposition leftist Syriza party, whose leader Stefanos Kasselakis is gay.

The first elected official in Greece to declare he is gay, Kasselakis has said he and his American husband want to become parents through surrogacy.

A key obstacle on same-sex issues in Greece has been the long-standing opposition of the Orthodox Church of Greece, which wields significant influence in society and politics.

Mitsotakis on Wednesday said same-sex weddings would be civil unions and will not be conducted in churches.

“I do not ask things from the Church which I know it cannot do,” he said.

‘Children are not pets’

In December, the governing body of the Church issued a circular to dioceses that strongly condemned same-sex marriage and adoption.

“Children are not pets or accessories,” it said.

“No social modernisation and no political correctness can trick the natural need of children for a father and a mother,” it added.

Under the Greek constitution, single parents regardless of gender have been allowed to adopt since 1946 — but until now the second partner in a same-sex union was left out.

Under the previous Syriza government, Greece in 2015 legalized civil unions for same-sex couples, becoming one of the last countries in the European Union to grant approval.

That law had resolved property and inheritance issues, but made no provision for the adoption of children.

Greece had been condemned for anti-gay discrimination by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, after gay couples were excluded from a prior civil unions law in 2008.

An opinion poll by Greek pollsters Alco for private TV Alpha this week showed that 49 percent of Greeks oppose legalising same-sex marriage, with 35 percent in favour.

Among New Democracy voters, those opposing the measure is nearly 60 percent.

In November, a Pew Research poll found 49 percent of Greeks opposed the measure, with 48 percent in favor.

Nearly 40 countries of the United Nations 193 member states allow same-sex couples to adopt, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

In the 27-member EU, 15 states have legalised same-sex marriage and 16 permit adoption.



We have the stories you’ll want to read.

RepublicAsia Newsletter