In the early hours of the morning with 193 votes in favour and 56 against the Greek Parliament legalized civil unions of same-sex couples. The bill was voted by a cross-party majority, ranging from representatives of the ruling radical left Syriza, to Pasok, the centrists of Potami and MPs of the conservative New Democracy. The nine MPs of Syriza’s coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, were divided: three voted in favour and six against. Also New Democracy, the major opposition party, failed to cast a unitary position: 29 ayes out of 79 MPs. Parliament’s vote puts the seal to a process begun in 2008, when was adopted a provision granting legal recognition to cohabitation by unmarried couples not belonging to the same sex. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was discriminatory for the country to exclude gay couples from existing legislation. The new law solves all legal issues, such as inheritance and medical assistance, while not providing for the possibility of adopting children. In fact, all provisions to that regard were repealed before the vote in order to promote the agreement.
Tsipras: “an important day”. “This is an important day for human rights – declared Greek premier Alexis Tsipras -. Today we acknowledge equality for all our fellow citizens before the law, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, signalling the end of a period of backwardness and shame for our State. However, instead of celebrating we should ask forgiveness to the hundreds of thousands of Greek citizens who have been denied such rights for years”.
The delusion of the Catholic Church. The opposition of the still prominent Orthodox Church and of the local Catholic Church was challenged and defeated. Archbishop Nikolaos Printezis, general secretary of the Greek Bishops’ Conference conveyed the disappointment over the adoption of the bill. “This law calls into question the institution of the family, consisting of father, mother and children, which is the founding nucleus of our society – the archbishop said, referring to a statement issued by the Catholic bishops -. Parliament did not consider the Christian sensitivity rooted in the vast majority of the population. But then, there are no elections ahead thus politicians do not need electoral consensus as the one that may come from the Orthodox Church.” I expect that MPs’ next step, the general secretary declared, “will be to approve adoptions by homosexual couples, postponed only temporarily. Given the ongoing crisis, we had expected similar – if not greater – commitment in support of the traditional family. Instead, at is appears, Parliament found a way to address different issues. Despite its gravity, the economic crisis has been adjourned”, he concluded.