news

Greek parliament to vote on civil unions

2015-12-12
Later this month the Greek parliament will vote on whether to allow same-sex couples the right to a civil union, despite strong opposition from the Orthodox church and mixed reactions from the right-wing side of politics. Draft legislation to be heard on December 22 seeks to include gay couples in an amendment to a 2008 civil unions law, from which they have been explicitly excluded. Orthadox-1200-Reuters Following condemnation for anti-gay discrimination handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013, a majority vote to update the law would bring Greek legislation on par with the rest of the European Union. While the governing Syriza party and the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) hold a majority in the 300-seat parliament, ANEL has made it clear that it intends to vote against the motion. ANEL spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni called the vote a “very important and delicate issue.” Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports the draft legislation drew thousands of critical comments during a two-week period of public consultation, and was also strongly opposed by the Church. Yet Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Ierotheos has tried to play down opposition from the institution. “The cohabitation agreement is evidently different from the Church’s proposal on the life of man,” he said. “However, every man is free to make his own choices and, as a result, he will also have to shoulder the responsibilities which derive from these choices,” he said. The country's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes cross-party will see the bill safely through parliament. Greece is one of the last European countries where same-sex couples cannot receive some kind of official recognition for their relationship. Two same-sex civil marriages held in 2008 were annulled by a court a year later after pressure from the Greek Orthodox Church, who were also influential in excluding same-sex couples from benefiting from the 2008 civil union bill, which updated national and with EU rules.