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Greek parliament approves legalisation of same-sex civil marriage

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Greek legislators passed a law to legalise same-sex marriage, positioning Greece as the first Orthodox Christian nation to do so.


Greek parliament on Thursday approved the legalisation of same-sex civil marriage, an achievement despite resistance from the influential Greek Orthodox Church. 

Polls showed that the majority of Greeks were in favour of the bill drawn up by the centre-right government and supported by four center and left-wing parties. 

For Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis it’s a breakthrough.

“Today is a day of joy because starting tomorrow another barrier between us is removed to create a bridge of coexistence in a free state with free citizens,” said Mitsotakis before the voting.

Supporters, waving rainbow banners, and opponents of the bill, holding religious icons and praying, held separate small, peaceful gatherings outside parliament on Thursday.

The bill would confer full parental rights on married same-sex partners with children. But it precludes gay couples from parenthood through surrogate mothers in Greece — an option currently available to women who can’t have children for health reasons.

The governing Holy Synod of senior bishops sent letters to all lawmakers outlining its objections. A circular with similar wording was read out during Sunday services at all Orthodox churches in the country, and religious groups have staged public protests against the proposal.

The church regards same-sex marriage as a threat to the traditional family model, arguing that support for that model could help address the declining birth rate in many European countries.

Support for that view has been expressed by other Orthodox countries, significantly including the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Orthodox-majority countries are all located in eastern and southern Europe, where public acceptance of gay rights has been broadly more apprehensive than in Western Europe.

The political landscape surrounding same-sex marriage is complicated, but it offers a rare moment of consensus at a time when politicians across the EU are keen to mark out their differences ahead of bloc-wide elections in June.

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