Greece Breaks Ground as First Christian Orthodox Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Members of the LGBTQ+ community and supporters celebrate in front of the Greek parliament, after the vote in favour of a bill which approved allowing same-sex civil marriages, in Athens, Greece, February 15, 2024. REUTERS/Louisa Gouliamaki

In a historic move, Greece has become the inaugural Christian Orthodox-majority nation to legalize same-sex marriage, along with granting legal adoption rights to same-sex couples following a parliamentary vote of 176-76 on Thursday.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis applauded the newly enacted law, emphasizing its role in addressing a significant inequality. However, the decision has ignited a nationwide divide, with staunch opposition spearheaded by the influential Orthodox Church. Demonstrators supporting the Church gathered for a protest rally in Athens, brandishing banners, displaying crosses, reciting prayers, and singing biblical passages in Syntagma Square.

Archbishop Ieronymos, the leader of the Orthodox Church, condemned the measure, expressing concern about its potential impact on the social cohesion of the homeland.

The legislation required a basic majority to secure approval within the 300-member parliament. While Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ardently supported the bill, he sought the backing of opposition parties to ensure its passage, given that numerous members of his center-right governing party were opposed to the measure.

Addressing parliament in a pre-vote debate, the prime minister stated, “People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us, and with them, many children will finally find their rightful place.” He emphasized that the reform would enhance the lives of several fellow citizens without detracting from the lives of the broader population.

Getty Images Opponents of same-sex marriage bill in Athens, Greece. Photo: 15 February 2024

Opponents of the legislature held a protest rally in front of the parliament building in Athens
LGBTQ organizations in Greece have enthusiastically embraced the vote’s outcome. Stella Belia, the leader of Rainbow Families, a group representing same-sex parents, expressed jubilation over the historic moment, stating to Reuters news agency, “This is a day of joy.”
Greece has joined the ranks of countries embracing marriage equality, becoming the first in Southeastern Europe to do so.
Despite opposition from the Church, the recent parliamentary vote marks a significant step forward for LGBTQ rights in the nation. Among the European Union’s 27 members, fifteen have already legalized same-sex marriage, with 35 countries worldwide permitting it. Greece’s move signals a progressive shift in the region towards greater inclusivity and recognition of diverse unions.
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