Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Making History in the Christian Community

Greece has become the world’s first Christian Orthodox nation to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ rights. The landmark reform was passed by the Athens parliament, leading to scenes of both jubilation and fury in the country. This article will delve into the details of the reform, the reactions from different groups, and the implications of this historic decision.

A Historic Moment for the LGBTQ+ Community

In a rare display of parliamentary consensus, 176 MPs from across the political spectrum voted in favor of the bill, while 76 rejected it. Two MPs abstained from the vote, and 46 were not present. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, many overcome with emotion, watched the proceedings from the galleries above.

Stella Belia, a prominent gay activist, expressed her joy, saying, “We have waited years for this.” The legislation not only allows same-sex couples to exchange vows in civil ceremonies but also grants them the right to adopt children. Belia described it as a historic moment, as many had doubted whether it would ever come.

Heated Debate and Public Rancor

The vote followed two days of intense debate and weeks of public rancor. Supporters of the reform hailed it as a bold and long-overdue step, while opponents, including the powerful Orthodox church, decried it as antisocial and unchristian.

Despite facing pushback from within his own party, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was a strong advocate for the bill. He argued that it would address a serious inequality in Greek democracy. Mitsotakis, who belongs to the liberal faction of his party, emphasized that conservatism should not be equated with antiquated views that are out of sync with modern society.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ Impassioned Speech

In an impassioned speech before the vote, Prime Minister Mitsotakis, a part of the center-right New Democracy party, passionately defended the measure. He highlighted that Greece would be aligning itself with 36 countries globally that had already legalized same-sex marriage. Mitsotakis emphasized that the reform would improve the lives of fellow citizens without taking anything away from others. He assured that the law would confer full parental rights on same-sex couples.

“We are covering a gap by allowing everyone, if they wish, to institutionally seal their relationship…just as heterosexual couples do,” Mitsotakis proclaimed. His speech resonated with many, especially those who had long felt marginalized and oppressed.

Opposition and Support

Opposition to the bill was strong, particularly among MPs from the socially conservative nation. Antonis Samaras, a former prime minister, argued that same-sex marriage was not a human right and criticized the introduction of the “dangerous” law.

The passage of the bill would not have been possible without the backing of Syriza, the main opposition leftist party led by Stefanos Kasselakis, Greece’s first gay political leader, and other smaller groups. Three opposition parties voted in favor, but Syriza expressed disappointment that the bill did not go far enough. They highlighted the fact that same-sex couples are still banned from achieving parenthood through surrogacy, a matter that Kasselakis himself hoped to pursue with his husband.

Criticisms and Trauma within the LGBTQ+ Community

While the passage of the bill was seen as a step forward, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups criticized its limitations. They argued that the law did not go far enough in ending discrimination. The exclusion of same-sex couples from assisted reproduction options and the hate speech that permeated the debate left many in the community feeling traumatized.

Elena Christidi, a psychologist and co-founder of the Orlando group advocating for LGBTQI mental health services, expressed her concern. She stated, “The legislation itself is so problematic and the language that we have heard so offensive that rather than wanting to celebrate, a lot of people feel quite numb.” Christidi highlighted the devastating impact on gay men and trans people who desire to have children, as they are left feeling judged and denied the same rights as others.

Opposition from Orthodox Bishops and Far-Right Parties

Orthodox bishops strongly opposed the bill and even threatened to excommunicate lawmakers who voted in favor. Far-right parties, including the Spartans party and the communist KKE party, overwhelmingly rejected the legislation. These parties deemed the law “monstrous” and vowed to nullify it if given the opportunity.

Despite the opposition, Prime Minister Mitsotakis affirmed that barriers for same-sex couples would be removed starting the next day. He acknowledged the struggles faced by gay people in Greece, who had long been invisible and oppressed within their families and social environments. Mitsotakis expressed his pride in Greece becoming the 16th EU country to legalize marriage equality, stating that it reflects a progressive and democratic country committed to European values.

In conclusion, Greece’s legalization of same-sex marriage marks a historic moment for the Christian Orthodox nation. While the reform faced opposition from conservative groups, it received overwhelming support from MPs across the political spectrum. Although some criticized the limitations of the law, proponents view it as a significant step towards equality. The LGBTQ+ community in Greece can now celebrate a hard-fought victory, even as they continue to advocate for further progress.