The Greek Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favor of extending civil unions to same-sex couples. The vote was 194-55, with 51 MPs abstaining. From Ekathimerini.com in Athens:
Three of the nine Independent Greeks deputies voted for the legislation, which was deemed a significant step toward the country aligning its civil rights with other European Union members. However, the bill passed thanks to the support it received from PASOK, Potami and the Union of Centrists, as well as some New Democracy MPs.
A total of 194 lawmakers voted for the bill and 55 voted against. Just 29 of 75 New Democracy deputies casted their ballot in favor of the legislation.
Governing left-wing party Syriza, of which anti-austerity Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a member, introduced and voted in the majority for the law. The law was promised as part of the Syriza platform in Greece’s last two elections, largely as a response to the European Court of Human Rights deciding in 2013 that it was discriminatory to exclude gay couples from the 2008 law extending civil union rights to unmarried heterosexual couples.
Tonight’s passage of equal civil unions was not a sure thing. The Greek Orthodox Church (the historic state religion of Greece) protested heavily against the bill, with clerics raining violent rhetoric on MPs. It was also protested by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party.
With this law, Greece now has extended civil partnerships and employment anti-discrimination protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Adoption rights are not extended to same-sex couples by this legislation. Transgender people in Greece face discrimination in military service.
Greece is the latest state to extend partnership rights to same-sex couples in Europe. Last week, Slovenia repealed a law extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, and Austria’s Supreme Court this past weekend denied marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The European Union currently has 28 members. Same-sex marriage is legal in twelve of them: Belgium, Denmark, Finland (effective 2017), France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia (effective date pending), Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland.) Civil unions are legal in eight EU nations: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus (effective date pending), the Czech Republic, Estonia (effective 2016), Germany, Greece (effective date pending0, Hungary, and Malta. No partnership recognitions exist in seven EU nations: Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Non-EU members Norway and Iceland legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Non-EU member Switzerland legalized registered partnerships in 2007.