Greece Pushes Ahead with Same-Sex Marriage Despite Church’s Opposition

Greece Same-sex marriage
The draft legislation would be put to a vote on February 12. Credit: AMNA

Greece’s government is speeding up its timetable to legalize same-sex marriage despite growing opposition from the powerful Orthodox Church.

Government officials said Wednesday that the draft legislation would be put to a vote by mid-February. Greece would become the first Orthodox-majority country to legalize same-sex marriage if the law passes.

The draft legislation was submitted for public consultation until January 31, at 9 p.m. It will then be submitted to Parliament where lawmakers will vote on it on February 12.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that he respected the disagreements both within ND’s parliamentary group and the Greek Church, but added that the bill “adds a right to some without taking away a right from the many.”

“Previous disagreements have not harmed the relationship between the State and the Church,” he added.

Greece passed legislation in 2015 allowing civil unions between same-sex people. The proposed bill goes further to allow child adoption, while excluding the option of surrogacy.

Ecumenical Patriarchate opposes bill

The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, which heads Orthodox churches around the world, expressed its opposition to the same-sex marriage proposal.

“Marriage is the union of man and woman under Christ … and the church does not accept the cohabitation of its members in any form other than marriage,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate said.

It echoed a decision by the Holy Synod, the highest governing body of the Church of Greece on Tuesday.

Metropolitan Bishop Panteleimon, a spokesman for the Greek Church’s governing Holy Synod, said that its written objections would be sent to all members of Greece’s parliament and read out at Sunday services around the country on Feb. 4.

“What the church says is that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and that is the source of life,” he told private Skai television. “The elders of our church are concerned with defending and supporting the family.”

Panteleimon said it was too soon to comment on the approach that the church would take toward the children of same-sex parents.

Several members of parliament, including ruling center-right New Democracy (ND) MPs, have also expressed opposition to the bill. The bill is expected to be enacted into law with the backing of center-left and left opposition parties.

Poll on same-sex marriage

A poll conducted by the Marc company published on Wednesday found that 40.8% were in favor of marriage equality, 17% were likely in favor and 39.8% were against it.

As to the question of same-sex couples adopting children, 13% were in favor without any regulations or exceptions, 28% were in favor under conditions and regulations and 55.2% were against.

Regarding surrogacy for same-sex couples, 14.6% of respondents supported it without restrictions, 12% were probably in favor, 9.1% were probably against and 61.1% were firmly against it.

Related: What We Can Learn from Plato about Same-Sex Marriage

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