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Greece’s Parliament Approves Landmark Same-Sex Civil Marriage Bill

Greece’s parliament achieved a historic milestone on Thursday by approving a bill that permits same-sex civil marriage, marking a significant victory for advocates of LGBT rights. The momentous decision elicited cheers from onlookers within the parliament and dozens gathered on the streets of Athens.

The newly enacted law grants same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children, a crucial achievement following decades of advocacy by the LGBT community for marriage equality in the socially conservative country. Greece, as one of the first Orthodox Christian nations, becomes a trailblazer in allowing such unions.

Stella Belia, the head of the same-sex parents group Rainbow Families, expressed her elation, stating, “This is a historic moment. This is a day of joy.”

The bill received approval from 176 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament and is set to become law upon its publication in the official government gazette. Despite some members of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right New Democracy party abstaining or voting against the bill, it garnered ample support from the leftist opposition, showcasing a rare display of cross-party unity amidst a tense debate.

Nikos Nikolaidis, a 40-year-old historian supporting the bill, commented, “It’s a very important step for human rights, a very important step for equality, and a very important step for Greek society.”

While recent opinion polls indicate a divided stance among Greeks on the issue, the powerful Orthodox Church, condemning homosexuality as a sin, staunchly opposed same-sex marriage. Many within the LGBT community believe the bill falls short, particularly in not addressing obstacles for LGBT couples in using assisted reproduction methods. The bill also does not extend surrogate pregnancies to LGBT individuals, although it recognizes children born through that method abroad.

Far-right parties, including Elliniki Lysi, denounced the bill as “anti-Christian” and detrimental to national interests. Former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a New Democracy lawmaker, voiced his opposition, stating, “Of course I will vote against it. The marriage of same-sex couples… is not a human right.”

LGBT groups rallied outside parliament with a banner declaring, “Not a step back from real equality.” Ermina Papadima, a member of the Greek Transgender Support Association, expressed pride in Greece becoming one of the most progressive countries and anticipated positive changes in societal mindset with the enactment of the new laws.

Campaigners, persisting against opposition from the Church and right-wing politicians, have advocated for change for decades. In 2008, a lesbian and a gay couple defied the law and married on the island of Tilos, but their weddings were later annulled by a top court. In recent years, Greece allowed civil partnerships among same-sex couples in 2015, recognized gender identity in 2017, and prohibited conversion therapy for minors suppressing sexual orientation two years ago. Source: Reuters

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