The Holy Synod, the highest governing body of the Church of Greece, expressed its opposition to the government’s expected bill on same-sex marriage and vowed to campaign against it.
Top clerics unanimously decided to launch a campaign to prevent the bill from becoming law, an initiative that has been dominating the political debate since Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to bring it forward, stirring an outcry from the church, the parties of the far right, and dozens of ruling New Democracy MPs.
The Holy Synod is drafting two letters to put forward its case. Recipients of the first will be the three hundred lawmakers that will vote on the government bill. The second would be read to the faithful after Sunday’s service in churches throughout the country. The content of the letters has not yet been made public.
Greek Church opposes same-sex marriage
Last December late in the month, the Church’s ruling Holy Synod delivered a 1,500-word document opposing the bill.
The church clarified that it does not disagree with same-sex civil marriages, as it is indifferent to the sex of couples and is something that does not concern Orthodox Christian tradition.
However, their concerns remain around parenting, which they disagree with because “it does not satisfy the rights of children to have both a father and a mother.”
As an extension to that, the church disagrees with same-sex marriage because it can lead to same-sex parenting. The church also stated that “the extension of marriage to same-sex couples is not legally permissible, excluding them from the right to adoption that currently applies to married couples.”
Same-sex marriage bill before Parliament in February
Last week, Mitsotakis said he will be bringing a same-sex marriage bill before Parliament in February. “I’m very optimistic that it will become Greek law within the first two weeks of February,” Mitsotakis said. “What I have to openly say is that these are important issues for certain citizens…Until now we have had a healthy discussion.”
“I, and all those who believe in this legislation, must convince our parliamentarians and subsequently those who may still have a negative stance,” he said in his first interview of the year with the country’s public broadcaster ERT.
“What we are going to legislate is equality in marriage, which means the elimination of any discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he explained. “It is not something radically different from what applies in other European countries.” Mitsotakis said Greece would, however, not be legitimizing surrogate parenthood.
“We won’t change the law on assisted parenthood,” he said, addressing the issue. He emphasized that same-sex couples, just like straight people, could continue to adopt children.
“The idea of women who are turned into child-producing machines on demand…that is not going to happen,” he said. “We will not experiment with more advanced ideas.”
He also clarified that he will not request party discipline on an issue that is a matter of “conscience,” calling on dissenting New Democracy lawmakers to abstain instead of voting against the legislation.
The proposed bill has caused friction within the ruling conservative party, with some sixty MPs currently leaning towards voting against it or abstaining.
The most prominent figure among the dissenters, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has voiced his opposition against same-sex marriage. Interior Minister Makis Voridis also said he is prepared to hand in his resignation.
Main opposition SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis, the first openly gay and recently married party leader in the country, announced that he would be imposing complete party discipline in favor of the legislation even before this has been tabled.