Greek Parliament Discusses Steps Towards Legalising Same-Sex Unions

Justice Minister in Athens Haralambos Athanasiou, blocked legislation

Greece is one of the last EU states to recognise same-sex unions.

The Greek parliament decided to make the first move towards legalising same-sex unions. Up until now, the country has refused to discuss the topic.

The bill comes two years after the European court of human rights fined Greece for failing to protect the rights of LGBT people living in Greece. The new law aims to provide the same rights and protections for homosexual couples as their heterosexual counterparts enjoy. These include inheritance rights and the ability to declare common tax declarations.

However, LGBT activists and campaigners do not believe these laws are adequate.

Leo Kalovyrnas, one LGBT campaigner, said, “The bill does not provide equality before the law, especially in regard to adoption and custody of children, but it comes close. Politicians in this country tend to hide behind the church but they, too, across the board, are homophobic.”

Last year, the justice minister in Athens’, Haralambos Athanasiou, blocked legislation and stated that “same sex marriage amounted to a ‘danger’” for the traditional aspects of Greek culture.

Athanasiou stated in a television interview, “I won’t discuss it, I can’t conceive of it. What are the consequences going to be? Are we going to go as far as talking about adoption [by same-sex couples] next?”

After Monday’s announcement, the Greek Orthodox bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta published his homophobic hate speech in a public blog post. He called for the faithful to denounce members of the LGBT community. He wrote “Whenever and wherever you meet them, spit on them. Condemn them. Blacken them. They are not human! They are freaks of nature!”

In his introduction to eastern Christianity, Timothy Ware wrote “in all specific cases of homosexuality we should of course seek to show the upmost sensitivity and generous compassion.” when discussing the Orthodox canon law.

LGBT activists have announced they will sue the bishop for the hate speech seen in the blog post and the church has agreed that he has taken his language too far and not practicing “generous compassion”.

Even with harmful statements like the bishop’s, it is expected that the legislation will pass with the help of the centre-left opposition.