Greek parliament moves towards legalising same-sex unions

It has required decades of campaigning and more than a few tears, but the Greek parliament will take the first steps towards legalising same-sex unions in a country that has long rebuffed the move.


The step made on Monday has spurred fierce debate, with the Greek Orthodox bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta calling on the church faithful to denounce those he described as “freaks of nature”.


“Whenever and wherever you meet them, spit on them,” he announced in an acerbic blog post. “Condemn them. Blacken them. They are not human! They are freaks of nature!”


The parliamentary committee begins discussing the bill two years after Greece was fined by the European court of human rights for failing to extend protective rights, including domestic partnerships, to gays and lesbians.


Under the leftist-led government of Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, activists in Greece’s increasingly visible LGBT community had hoped the wrong would be redressed without much ado. But the enforced cohabitation with the small rightwing Independent Greeks party, and the persistence of homophobic views even on the left, has resulted in foot-dragging. Greece remains the last EU state after Latvia not to recognise same-sex unions.


While the new law seeks to confer the same rights on homosexual couples as those enjoyed by heterosexuals – namely inheritance rights and ability to declare common tax declarations – campaigners say it fails to go far enough.


“The bill does not provide equality before the law, especially in regard to adoption and custody of children, but it comes close,” LGBT campaigner Leo Kalovyrnas said. “Politicians in this country tend to hide behind the church but they, too, across the board, are homophobic.”


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