Greece’s Prime Minister faces fierce opposition over his pledge to legalize gay marriage
Author: Greg Owen
In Greece, the recently reelected prime minister, Kyiakos Mitsotakis, is facing strong opposition over his campaign pledge to legalize same-sex marriage.
Undaunted, Mitsotakis says the debate around same-sex marriage needs time “to mature.”
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“I, and all those who believe in this legislation, must convince our parliamentarians and subsequently those who may still have a negative stance,” Mitsotakis told Greek public broadcaster ERT. “What we are going to legislate is equality in marriage, which means the elimination of any discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is not something radically different from what applies in other European countries.”
Mitsotakis hasn’t said when he’ll introduce legislation in Parliament.
The prime minister cites the plight of the children of gay couples, who aren’t recognized under Greek law, as impetus for a change in the law.
“I don’t think anyone doubts this reality: that homosexual couples have children and these children are not going to stop existing, they are not going to vanish. But these children do not have equal rights,” Mitsotakis said.
He used the example of a non-biological mother in a lesbian relationship whose partner has fallen ill: “She has no rights. The child will go to an institution… A child born abroad cannot become a Greek citizen because, very simply, we don’t recognize” same-sex marriage in Greece.
The Orthodox Church is outspoken in its opposition to recognizing gay unions, and homosexuality in general, calling it “an abuse of the body” and a “great sin”. The Church also believes same-sex unions encourage surrogacy.
“Children are neither pets nor accessories,” the Holy Synod warned Greek dioceses recently. “No social modernization and no political correctness can trick the natural need of children for a father and a mother.”
One provincial bishop threatened lawmakers with excommunication if they voted in favor of same-sex unions.
Mitsotakis has at least one powerful ally in the Greek Parliament: Stefanos Kasselakis, leader of the main opposition leftist party and the country’s first out gay party leader.
Kasselakis – who married his longtime American partner, Tyler Mcbeth, in October just a month after assuming leadership of Syriza — has spoken of the couple’s desire to have children.
“Love makes the family,” he posted to Facebook recently. “These are issues solved in other countries, but not in Greece.”
The prime minister has his work cut out for him. He estimates he doesn’t have the votes yet in Parliament to advance legislation, and a recent poll shows 49% of Greeks are opposed to legalizing same-sex unions, with 35% in favor. But he thinks folks can be persuaded.
The Church is another matter.
“We will listen to the views of the church,” Mitsotakis said.
“I don’t know if we will be able to agree… but it is the state that legislates, it doesn’t co-legislate with the church.”
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Author: Greg Owen