Greece legalises same-sex marriage and adoption in ‘historic moment of joy’

In a significant victory for its LGBTQ+ citizens, Greece has become the first country with a Christian Orthodox majority to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption.

In a “historic moment” on Thursday (15 February), the south-eastern European nation’s parliament approved a bill by 176 votes to just 76. Despite the change, same-sex couples would still be prohibited from seeking medically assisted reproduction through a surrogate, meaning they can only adopt or arrange surrogacy outside their homeland. 

The bill will pass into law when it’s published in the official government gazette. 

A person hangs a LGBTQ+ Pride flag outside the Greek parliament. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The landmark victory was celebrated outside the parliament building with LGBTQ+ groups holding banners that read: “Not a step back from real equality.” 

Ermina Papadima, a member of the Greek Transgender Support Association, said: “I’m very proud as a Greek citizen because Greece is actually now one of the most progressive countries.” 

And Stella Belia, the head of same-sex parents group Rainbow Families, told Reuters: “This is a historic moment. This is a day of joy.”

Meanwhile, historian Nikos Nikolaidis, who joined a rally in favour of the bill ahead of the vote, said: “It’s a very important step for human rights, a very important step for equality and a very important step for Greek society.” 

The bill had faced opposition from the highly influential Orthodox Church and its followers, with claims that children were being treated as “accessories” and “companion pets” for gay couples.

The Church – which views homosexuality as a sin – also argued that the law will “confuse parental roles” and “weaken the traditional family”. But prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the move would “boldly abolish a serious inequality”.

During a tense debate in parliament, the PM said: “People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us, and with them, many children will finally find their rightful place,” the BBC reported. Although some members of his centre-right New Democracy party abstained or voted against the bill, it gained enough support from the left-wing opposition parties, in a rare show of cross-party unity.

The landmark change follows Greece allowing civil partnership for same-sex couples in 2015, and two years later giving legal recognition to gender identity. 

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