By Kathy Karageorgiou
Same-sex marriage in a civil, rather than religious context, is a bill due to be passed – or perhaps rejected – by Greek Parliament on February 15 this year.
‘New Democracy,’ Greece’s current ruling party, holds 158 of the 300 parliamentary seats. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is counting on pro same-sex marriage votes from much of his centre-right party, and from parties of the Left. And although the Greek Orthodox Church is vehemently opposed to the bill, it looks like Greece will be one of the first majority Orthodox Christian countries to adopt same-sex marriage.
Greece’s Prime Minister has stressed that same-sex marriage is a human rights issue. That is his reasoning in terms of not following Australia’s 2017 lead for example, on holding a referendum regarding this issue in Greece. He has subsequently stated that passing the bill is not a revolutionary act, believing Greece should be aligned with the other European Union countries who have legalised same-sex marriage, in accordance with 2020-2025 policy goals on LGBTIQA+ (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, Asexual) rights.
Many LGBTIQA+ advocates see Greece as pursuing a conservative path insofar as children in same-sex marriage are concerned, as the pending legislation will allow adoption but not surrogacy and IVF means of pursuing parenthood.
Notwithstanding the stated, adamant perspectives of the LGBTIQA+ community, the Greek Government and the Greek Orthodox Church, what do the Greek people think of legislating same-sex marriage?
A plethora of latest polls suggest a roughly equal percentage of pro or against same-sex marriage. I spoke to a few people ‘on the ground’ in Greece, to gauge their opinions and views on this issue.
Education is key:
Maria E.A., a Masters student of International Relations who is in her late 20’s, is pro same-sex marriage.
Her scope is that a healthy same-sex marriage and family life is preferable to an unhappy heterosexual marriage.
She posits, “if only all those heterosexual families with abusive parents were replaced with healthy same-sex couples, how much better would that turn out for children?”
Maria adds that qualified and experienced counsellors, such as child psychologists for example, should be involved in educating same-sex couples if they want to raise children.
Attesting to a belief in the balance of dualities of “male/female, yin yang energies of the universe” for a harmonious life, Maria purports, “I believe both parents can encapsulate and portray to the child both male and female energies in a healthy way.”
“I’ve met many gay and bisexual men who value women, understand them and have portrayed ‘masculine’ energy more than some ‘men’ out there… Behaviour, education and empathy matter, regardless of which gender you prefer to lay down in bed with at night,” she adds.
‘The bill shouldn’t be passed’:
Vasiliki M. is in her 50’s, single, and employed as a Customer Service, Greek representative for an international company. She told me she is against same-sex marriage.
“It shouldn’t be passed anywhere – worldwide. It seems like same-sex relationships are going to be the norm, like heterosexual relationships were 20 years ago,” she states.
“I don’t care what they do in their bedroom. But what I do care about is the example they’re giving future generations.”
Asking her to elaborate, Vasiliki adds, “It’s the 2030 agenda – eat bugs and be happy, have no money of your own and be happy, marry the same-sex and be happy! Same-sex marriage leads to the breaking up of family values. It’s not OK even if they don’t have kids. Look, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
“I’m not particularly pro-marriage in general, as it’s just a piece of paper at the end of the day, and I do understand that some people are born gay, but these days it seems to be becoming a trend,” she continues.
“Why do they want our ‘straight’ people’s institutions anyway, since they reject our way of life? Why don’t they just make their own ‘commitment’ ceremonies instead of mimicking our marriage event?”
Vasiliki attests to having many gay friends, “but I wouldn’t attend their weddings if they decided on this. They should not be accepted by the Orthodox Church or any church because these are ‘our’ values.”
I put it to Vasiliki as to whether she’d prefer a referendum, but she immediately responds with a firm “No,” adding, “we had a referendum on leaving the EU a few years back in 2015, when our ‘Yes’ was turned to ‘No.’ What a joke! I wouldn’t trust our government…”
Children and same-sex marriage:
Yiannis Thomadakis is a 36-year-old Law graduate and writer in Greece, living and working currently in Crete as a tour guide, in collaboration with local travel agencies. He is pro same-sex marriage, mainly in the context of its importance in having the choice to be a parent and raise children.
He states from the onset that although civil cohabitational agreements between same-sex couples have been legal in Greece since 2015, the current proposed bill regarding same-sex marriage is important because “it also solves an acute social demand by the LGBTIQA+ community and a complex legal issue for the recognition of the rights of same-sex families’ children, in order for them to be able to obtain benefits from both parents and in case something happens, to be recognised as their legitimate family and descendants.”
Yiannis stresses that same-sex couples follow the same process as heterosexual couples in terms of adopting children. Their “aptness” as parents is “assessed by specialised psychologists and social workers,” while he emphatically adds “the scientists agree that, in general, same sex families are equally able to raise children and the sexual orientation of their parents does not influence their own.”
As to the main objectors of this bill, Yiannis emphasises that the Church and “far right political entities” acted in a similar way towards a 1982 Greek government bill that did pass. This bill legislated women’s rights in Greece, such as “their liberation from the dowry, the establishment of their right to divorce, their right to abortion, the establishment of the civil (non-religious) marriage, as well as the decriminalisation of adultery.”
He is totally opposed to a same-sex marriage referendum, seeing it as an irrational thing to debate.
“It is a bill dealing with constitutionally recognised and strictly protected human rights of personal freedom, and freedom to make a family (as freedom of expression),” he said.
Yiannis concludes by stating his belief that the same-sex marriage law will also be of benefit to the Greek public.
“It will spread the message of an open, just, sensitive, progressive society, that includes everyone and teaches that what matters the most for a healthy family is love towards the children and not the private lives of their parents,” he said.
Traditional family unit:
Lefteris K. is a married 66-year-old Law Clerk. He and his wife have two adult children and also grandchildren. Lefteris is adamantly against same-sex marriage.
“God gave women a womb,” he says, continuing, “I don’t care what gays do, but don’t be an example of ‘family’ to my grandkids. No to civil marriage as well for homosexuals, and definitely no to them having children.”
He mentions the “2030 plan” and spiritedly continues, “…the WHO (World Health Organisation) want to destroy the family, to bring in the new order of things. It’s Bill Gates’ globalist plan to reduce the world’s population. That way, the powers that be have more control, as it’s easier to control less people. So this same-sex marriage agenda is to further reduce Greece’s already low birthrates.”
He claims that the only salvation towards a dignified life is found within the traditional family unit.
“Don’t expect the schools to help, when here in Greece too they are referring to mothers or fathers as Parent 1 or Parent 2. What do you expect from a government who doesn’t really govern – who are a joke,” he said.
In closing, he excitedly asserts, “I’m not a Marxist, nor a capitalist. I’m a patriot. If people don’t wake up to these new world order ideas – such as gay marriage – it’ll be too late. People should stay close to their families, converse with others, seek alternative forms of news and education online, and read books – like Orwell’s, 1984.”
Agree or disagree with same-sex marriage, there are also those here in Greece who state that they just don’t care about it, expressing that they see it as a diversion from the ‘real’ issues – such a waning quality of life due to economic hardship.