With 194 votes in favor the Greek parliament has finally given the green light for homosexual couples to enter into a civil union partnership. Following a marathon debate, the body of the Greek parliament affirmed the relevant decree making it a formal law of the state.
This vote is undoubtedly a historic moment for the country as for the first time in the history of the nation, homosexual relationships are legally recognized.
Τhe Greek MP, Vasiliki Katrivanou: «Today is the day of the voting concerning the extended civil partnership for homosexual and heterosexual couples. Even though it consists of an elementary act and an basic right that has been continuously delayed, it is still at the same time a cross-section for human rights and equality before the law in our country. It is a reward for the social fights the LGBT society has gone through – a triumph against homophobia and obscurantism. I felt honestly touched hen a lesbian friend and activist told me two days ago, «It is an unbelievable feeling, even though you are already aware of it, you suddenly feel that you are an existing person, that you are visible, publicly recognised. I view myself differently because of the civil partnership. I view myself positively and not through all the negative social stereotypes. The extended civil partnership is a crucial step. However its importance will be judged from what is to come: whether we will move on soon to the next steps, such as civil marriage and legal recognition of gender identity for transgender people or not. We should fight for these rights, starting from tomorrow.»
The Essential Values
-The Promotion of private independence, namely respect of the private will of the parties. The parties may regulate their estate relations, but according to the principles of equality and solidarity, maintaining a greater degree of autonomy as this relates to their their assets, if they wish, even on hereditary issues. However, if they do not choose to do so, they retain full rights, proprietary and on inheritance.
-The need for protection of family relations and the consolidation of the principle of equality in interpersonal relations of the parties. The new law understands both parties as equal, but does not overlook the social reality that requires the protective intervention of the legislator. As a result, certain critical issues are regulated by mandatory rules. For instance, parties can not renounce participation in acquisitions, are entitled to claim a diet after the dissolution of the pact , etc.
– The new law seeks a balance between private autonomy and the need to protect family relations, based on principles of equality and solidarity. The law is in fact a contract, however there is a family relationship created between those who enter into it.
-The pact recognizes to the parties involved, rights which they did not previously have, so as to ensure the enjoyment of family life and respect for the principles of equality regardless of sexual orientation. As noted by the European Court of Human Rights, in the majority of the member states of the Council of Europe, people who enter a civil partnership obtain status similar to that of married couples and gain access to a variety of rights.
Organizations comment on the voting of the law:
George Kourogiorgos, Colour youth: «Today is a landmark day for the LGBTQ community in Greece. It may have taken longer than expected, but this is in any case the first important step to claiming equality in our country. As in the case of a baby, from the moment that we have been able to rely on our feet and take the first step, we commit that we are not going to stop here, but will continue to make steady progress. Let’s all together celebrate this victory, the result of long and systematic efforts. However, let us reevaluate our so far efforts and on the basis of the experience gained, let’s redesign our subsequent goals. The next step? But of course the legal recognition of gender identity! Specifically, we expect the pre-legislative Committee that will draft the law for the institutional recognition of gender identity to resume its sessions. We aim at an institutional recognition of gender identity without conditions and accessible to all ages … «
Stella Belia, Rainbow Families: Without undermining the voting of the Bill as it provides a solution for key problems for many, ourselves as lgbtq + parents are left with a bitter after taste… We remain hopeful that even at the last minute, the Minister of Justice will be fair with our children and will not continue to deprive them of one of their two parents, by including the amendment proposed by the Ombudsman and submitted to the committee by Potami (and the Democratic Alliance?) for the parental responsibility and guardianship. The first excuse of the Secretary General – as heard on Parliament TV-for this very timid stance «was not in consultation and were not placed thereon by those who participated in this» we are not convinced as the suggestion of counsel – and ours – took place in the context of this consultation. The second excuse, that whatever has anything to do with children requires careful study and not individualized actions – position and stance with which we do not disagree with -apart from one point: from the first moment we were invited to discuss – almost eight months ago-we raised the issue of parental responsibility and have been campaigning on the subject for years. How much time does the Ministry and the political leadership need to review and study the matter?
Thanos Vlachogiannis, OLKE: Today is a historic day for the LGBTI society in Greece, a historic day for human rights. From today we are one step closer to full equality. It is a day that proves to all of us that many things can change in this country, provided that we all believe in change and try our best. The civil partnership pact, resolves many problems that same sex couples faced until today, it does however also shield them against social injustice and makes it smoother in the long term for them to be accepted as part of our society by those that have until now rejected them. With the experience gained with the process for the adoption of the Pact, we move stronger and bolder to the next step which is the legal recognition of civil marriage. From tomorrow, I expect to see in the streets more same-sex couples go hand-in-hand, I am sure that as of today they regained a large part of their lost confidence.
First published, in Greek and English, on Antivirus Magazine, 23.12.2015.