Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Greece – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 30, 2009

500px-Coat_of_arms_of_Greece_svgThe Archbishop of Athens seems to be taking a more liberal line on same-sex civil unions, saying that “there is  need to change with the time.”

Recognition of same sex couples


Although there is no official recognition of same-sex couples, a 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between “persons”, without specifying gender, allows in theory for same sex marriages. On 3 June 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two homosexual couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing the legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which in the past had also opposed the introduction of civil marriage. Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis declared the Tilos marriages “invalid” and Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas warned Mayor Aliferis of the legal repercussions of his “breach of duty”, but he said he had “no intention of annulling the marriages”.dieStandard.atAFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battleBBC NEWS | Europe | Greece sees first gay ‘marriage’

In the past, Greek political parties have had differing views. Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), under George Andreas Papandreou presented in April 2006, a legislative proposal for the recognition of unmarried couples, homosexual and heterosexual, following the French example of the Pacte civil de solidarité. However, according to some LGBT groups, the proposal’s controversial terminology made little headway on LGBT rights and PASOK‘s proposed ‘partnership’ banned same-sex couples from adopting. Greece’s leftist party Coalition of the Radical Left, reportedly supports same-sex marriage and Alekos Alavanos, the former leader of Synaspismos, stated that the coalition backed the fight against all kinds of discrimination and supported the free expression of sexual orientation including the legalization of same-sex marriages.

The government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis New Democracy is opposed to same-sex marriage. While the New Democracy-led government has introduced legislation that offers several rights to unmarried couples this explicitly includes only different sex couples, and it is the first time in the world that a civil union law has passed only for heterosexual couples. This law is expected to be declared unconstitutional or against EU principles if brought to Greek or European Courts.

The National Human Rights Committee proposed a registry that would cover both same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual ones.and the Greek group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples.

Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, said on the issue of gay marriage “There is a need to change with the time” keeping a surprisingly neutral position. The church has previously opposed gay rights in general and civil union laws in particular.


One Response to “Greece – the gay issue”

  1. john said

    Gosh! Does this mean that one of our major ecumenical partners is wobbling on the essentials of the Faith?

    Pass me the smelling salts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: