Greece legitimises same-sex civil partnerships

Greece’s parliament passes law allowing civil partnership of same sex couples despite opposition from Orthodox Church

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A man holds a placard during a demonstration outside the Greek parliament in Athens, where lawmakers voted early Wednesday to allow gay couples the right to have civil partnerships

Greece enacted a law early on Wednesday, allowing homosexual civil unions despite protests from opposition groups and the Church.

After a 10-hour discussion, 193 lawmakers voted in favour of the law in the 300-seat parliament and supporters could be seen wearing gay pride badges. Outside parliament, same-sex rights supporters came together with banners shouting “Love is Law” and ''All I want for Christmas is Equality”.

European countries like Britain, Spain and Cyprus legalised partnership rights for homosexuals but the subject is still debated in many other EU states.

"This is a great moment, not only for the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community, but also for legal equality in Greece", Vasiliki Katrivanou, a lawmaker with Tsipras' leftist Syriza party, told parliament.

"But what is worth discussing is ... that it took us so long, that it took all these struggles", she said adding the bill would open the way for the civil union of same-sex couples, which has been Syriza's pre-election promise.

Socialist PASOK party, the centrist to Potami party, the Union of Centrists and many conservative members of parliament approved the bill despite objection by some council members from Tsipras’s right-wing coalition party.

"This is an important day for human rights," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the chamber.

Tsipras said the bill gives same-sex couples "equal rights in life and death", terminating a practice of "backwardness and shame" for Greece.

Several supporters gathered outside parliament and two gay supporters kissed in front of the banner and read  "Love is not a sin", outside Athens’ Metropolitan Church.

Gay and lesbian activists said that the draft of the law does not allow homosexuals to marry or adopt children, also it does not give them tax and health rights.

"We want this civil partnership, but we want it in full," said activist Dimitra Kyrilou, a civil engineer.

"People of the Church believe in a certain lifestyle", said Archbishop Ieronymos. "Anything outside this is a diversion."

But Syriza lawmakers said that some people "prefer to turn a blind-eye to reality" and that "darkness was defeated".

"It's about the oldest story in human relationships. Two people love each other and want to be together but they are constantly faced with hurdles", said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who had a rainbow badge pinned on his jacket.

"The Greek state must not stigmatise people."


TRTWorld and agencies