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Greece Becomes the 37th Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

The reform also opens the door to adoptions and parental guardianship rights to both parents in same-sex partnerships.

People wait outside the Parliament while the bill on same-sex marriage is debated in Athens, Greece, on February 15, 2024.

Greece on Thursday became the first Christian Orthodox, 16th European Union, and 37th overall nation to legalize same-sex marriage, a move one rights group called “a huge step forward for LGBTQ+ people” in the Balkan country.

Members of the Hellenic Parliament from across most of the political spectrum came together in a rare moment of consensus, defying opposition from the country’s influential Orthodox Church and voting 176-76 with two abstentions to pass the landmark reform.

In addition to granting same-sex couples marriage rights, the measure also opens the door to adoptions and confers parental guardianship rights to both parents in same-sex partnerships.

“Greece is proud to become the 16th E.U. country to legislate marriage equality,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s center-right prime minister, said on social media after the vote. Mitsotakis had promised to approve marriage equality legislation after his reelection last year.

“This is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today’s Greece — a progressive, and democratic country, passionately committed to European values,” he added, drawing some scornful replies highlighting the nation’s treatment of asylum-seeking migrants.

During Thursday’s parliamentary debate, Mitsotakis said that “people who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us, and with them, many children will finally find their rightful place.”

Stella Belia, the head of same-sex parents’ group Rainbow Families, told Reuters that Thursday’s vote was a “historic moment” on a “day of joy.”

“It makes life much, much easier for many people, and it protects children that have been living in a state of precariousness,” Belia said in a separate interview with The New York Times.

Historian Nikos Nikolaidis said the vote marked “a very important step for human rights, a very important step for equality, and a very important step for Greek society.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Ieronymos, who heads the Greek Orthodox Church, said legalization will “corrupt the homeland’s social cohesion,” a position shared by the far-right Elliniki Lysi party.

Outside the Hellenic Parliament in Athens, proponents of marriage equality celebrated the vote.

“I’m very proud as a Greek citizen because Greece is actually — now — one of the most progressive countries,” Ermina Papadima, a member of the Greek Transgender Support Association, told Reuters.

“I think the mindset is going to change,” Papadima added. “We have to wait, but I think the laws are going to help with that.”

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