Greece Just Legalized Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ+ Adoption

Lawmakers in Greece passed a landmark marriage equality law this week, making it the first Christian Orthodox nation to legalize same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ adoption.

A majority of Greece’s Hellenic Parliament came together in support of the bill late Thursday, as members of the leading center-right New Democracy party joined with the SYRIZA party and three other left-wing opposition parties to pass it into law, the Associated Press confirmed.

“Greece is proud to become the 16th EU country to legislate marriage equality,” wrote Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on X, formerly Twitter, Thursday night. “This is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today’s Greece — a progressive, and democratic country, passionately committed to European values.” Greece is the first country in southeast Europe to legalize same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ adoption, and the first of the world’s 14 majority-Orthodox nations to do so.

Although Greece passed laws establishing LGBTQ+ civil unions in 2008 and 2015, activists have contended for years that those laws do not grant full equality. The new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples, including adoption, which was previously banned for LGBTQ+ Greeks. But the law still leaves prohibitions in place that prevent LGBTQ+ couples from contracting with a surrogate mother, a reproductive option that’s currently only available for hetero couples and single women. A recent opinion poll estimated that while 55% of Greeks support marriage equality and LGBTQ+ adoption rights, more than 60% oppose reforming current surrogacy law to include same-sex couples.

Even without surrogacy reform, the marriage law attracted plenty of opposition from right-wing and religious activists in Greece, who rallied outside the Hellenic Parliament building ahead of the vote on Thursday. Among its fiercest critics was former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who railed against “woke culture” in a speech condemning the bill just before the vote. “We cannot play with the souls of children,” Samaras said, claiming that same-sex marriage was “not a right” and that it would lead to polygamy and, somehow, the abolition of maternity itself.

More enthusiastic about the law was openly gay SYRIZA president Stefanos Kasselakis, who celebrated the vote by dancing to Katy Perry’s “Firework” at a gay bar in Gazi with his husband Tyler McBeth. The two have openly discussed their hopes to raise children together, whether by adoption or surrogacy.

“From now on, we move forward with modern society, modern Greece,” Kasselakis said after arriving at the bar, according to a translation by Greek City Times. “There are many Greek men and women who are abroad and do not return because they know that this mentality belongs to previous times. I want them to see a modern society.”

Violence and intolerance against LGBTQ+ people, especially trans people of color, is still rampant in Greece, where Orthodox Christianity is legally recognized as the country’s “prevailing religion.” Greek law also does not recognize intersex people, restricting legal gender recognition only to “male” and “female.” The country’s first LGBTQ+ cabinet minister, Nicholas Yatromanolakis, left his post in the Mitsotakis administration last year after being appointed in 2021.

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