Greece’s parliament approved a legislation legalising same-sex marriage with a huge majority of 193 – 56. The result was announced early on Wednesday, AP reported.
Late on Tuesday, the Greek parliament enacted a human-rights’ bill which allows civil partnership agreements between same-sex couples despite protests and opposition from political parties and the powerful Orthodox Church.
According to Reuters, a growing number of European countries have established legislation allowing registered partnership rights for same-sex couples, including Britain, Spain and Cyprus, but the issue remains contentious in many other EU states.
Although Greece allowed such agreements for heterosexual couples in 2008 it excluded homosexual couples, a move which the European Court of Human Rights ruled discriminatory in 2013.
On Tuesday, 193 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament voted in favour of similar rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has promised social reforms to mitigate the negative impact of an EU/IMF bailout, said the bill closed “a circle of embarrassment for the state”.
Conservative bishops in Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church vehemently opposed the law, arguing that it undermined the institution of family.
“Homosexuality is a deviation from the laws of nature. It is a social crime, a sin. Those who experience or support it are not normal people,” said Bishop Amvrosios of the southern town of Kalavryta, where church bells tolled Tuesday in opposition to the bill.
Ekathimerini said in a report, Tsipras said that the approval of same-sex civil partnerships, which was fiercely opposed by some Greek Orthodox bishops, showed that “Greek society is not as fearful and mean as some people wish to present it.”
“We have a long distance to cover to continue the daily struggle against every type of discrimination, especially against racism,” he said. “This struggle needs democratic forces and social movements to come together, it requires constant vigilance and political courage so we do not let darkness win.”
The latest legislation grants same-sex couples the option of having civil partnerships, which would offer them full marriage rights but not necessarily the right to adopt children.