The conservative government in Greece is considering legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption for gay couples, as an openly gay politician was elected leader of the main opposition.
Stefanos Kasselakis, who was married in the US to American nurse Tyler McBeth, is SYRIZA’s first openly gay leader and has vowed to legalize same-sex marriage if he wins the next general election, which is scheduled for 2027.
Perhaps Greece is getting less conservative and more liberal after all? Greek society may prove to be more willing than expected in accepting the right of individuals to choose how to live.
Mitsotakis: “Same-sex marriage will happen” in Greece
Marriage equality is a reform that was announced by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis before Kasselakis emerged on the Greek political scene.
In July, Mitsotakis told Bloomberg Television that “same-sex marriage will happen at some point and it’s part of our strategy.” The center-right leader went on to say: “Greek society is much more ready and mature.”
According to reports, the core of the bill for the marriage of same-sex couples has been completed but has not been officially presented due to concerns expressed by the Greek Orthodox Church and rightists in the ruling party.
Speaking earlier in September in Thessaloniki, Mitsotakis said:
The time we will choose to bring the relevant regulation to the Parliament for a vote is obviously my decision. However, what I have said pre-election and post-election is fully valid. It is an issue that within this four-year period, this government will resolve.
Alexis Patelis, an advisor to Mitsotakis, spoke about the Kasselakis effect saying that Greeks accepted the sexual orientation of the new President of SYRIZA.
Patelis, who is also gay and married to his partner abroad, highlighted the legislative gap in Greece.
“What I found interesting was that the topic of discussion about Kasselakis was everything but his sexual orientation…The official opposition leader has married abroad with a relationship that is not recognized by the Greek legal order,” he noted.
“The Prime Minister believes in marriage equality and he will bring this to the Parliament,” he added.
Greece recognizes cohabitation agreements
As of 2015, Greece recognizes cohabitation agreements for same-sex couples, offering some of the rights and benefits of marriage.
The Greek Prime Minister, who first came to power in 2019, appointed a committee to work on a national strategy for improving the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens in 2021 and has since lifted the ban on gay men donating blood and banning unnecessary and “abusive” intersex genital mutilation of children.
Analysts say the most difficult issue is the adoption of children by people of the same sex. The main argument in favor of revising the existing framework, as formulated by Patelis, is that, today, LGBTI couples already have children, who in no way have the same rights as other children.
He specifically stated that in cases in which the biological parent dies, the child does not remain with the non-biological parent but ends up in an institution, while the child has no right to inheritance (from the biological parent) because he has no legal entity.
In addition, when the parents divorce, the non-biological parent has no obligation to help raise the child.
The view within the government is that the issue should be resolved alongside legislative intervention for same-sex marriage. “These two issues are connected, [and] if they are not resolved together, [there is] the risk of the law failing,” a government source told newsit.gr.
However, there is a second school of thought that posits that the issue of adoption is a difficult issue and that it should not yet be considered.
Greece on the LGBTQ+ equality index
Equaldex’s LGBTQ+ equality index currently ranks Greece at 26 out of 51 European countries, with an equal age of consent, protections from gender identity, and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing, employment, and more generally, a ban on conversion therapy practices. The ban on so-called conversion therapy does include a loophole on “consenting adults.”
This year has seen Greece increase its share in the ILGA Europe Rainbow Europe ranking, coming in eleventh place. The southeastern European country has now overtaken nations, including Germany and the UK.