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Greece Says Yes to Same-Sex Marriage - Big Change!

Photo: Reuters

Greece's parliament achieved a groundbreaking moment on Thursday by approving a bill that allows same-sex civil marriage. This decision marks a significant victory for advocates of LGBTQ+ rights and was met with jubilation from onlookers in parliament and citizens gathered in the streets of Athens.

The newly passed law grants same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children, marking the culmination of decades of relentless campaigning by the LGBTQ+ community in Greece. Notably, Greece becomes one of the first Orthodox Christian countries to embrace same-sex unions.

Stella Belia, the head of the same-sex parents group Rainbow Families, expressed her joy, stating, "This is a historic moment. This is a day of joy."

The bill secured approval with 176 votes in the 300-seat parliament and is set to become law upon its publication in the official government gazette. Despite some members of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' New Democracy party abstaining or voting against the bill, it garnered substantial support from the leftist opposition, showcasing a rare cross-party unity amid a tense debate.

Nikos Nikolaidis, a 40-year-old historian who attended a rally in favor of the bill, described it as a "very important step for human rights, equality, and Greek society."

Public opinion on the matter appears divided, as indicated by recent polls. The influential Orthodox Church, deeming homosexuality a sin, vehemently opposed same-sex marriage. Simultaneously, some within the LGBTQ+ community believe the bill falls short, particularly in addressing obstacles for LGBT couples in using assisted reproduction methods. Surrogate pregnancies are not extended to LGBT individuals, though the bill acknowledges children born through this method abroad.

Far-right party Elliniki Lysi labeled the bill "anti-Christian" and argued it harms national interests, while former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a New Democracy lawmaker, expressed his opposition, stating that the marriage of same-sex couples is not a human right.

LGBT groups rallied outside parliament during the decision. A banner among the activists read, "Not a step back from real equality." Ermina Papadima, a member of the Greek Transgender Support Association, expressed pride, saying, "I'm very proud as a Greek citizen because Greece is actually - now - one of the most progressive countries."

Campaigners have long pushed for LGBTQ+ rights, facing opposition from the Church and right-wing politicians. While progress has been made in recent years, with civil partnerships legalized in 2015 and legal recognition given to gender identity in 2017, challenges and reservations persist. The approval of same-sex civil marriage adds another chapter to Greece's evolving stance on LGBTQ+ rights.

Feb. 16, 2024 4:35 p.m. 1425

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