Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

By: Neha Chhablani

Visiting Impunity Watch News Writer

ATHENS, Greece – On February 15, 2024, the Greek parliament passed a landmark bill legalizing same-sex marriage and equal parental rights for same-sex couples. Despite strong opposition from the country’s Orthodox Church, 176 out of 300 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favor of the bill. Greece is the first Orthodox Christian country to adopt such legislation, marking a step forward for the LGBTQ+ community in Greece and beyond.

LGBTQ+ activists holding a Pride flag outside the Greek Parliament during the 2023 Athens Pride Parade | Photo courtesy of NPR.

Greece’s new bill, which allows same-sex parents to claim legal guardianship of their children and legalizes civil same-sex marriage, was proposed by Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He cited the bill as reflective of the country’s new progressive and democratic identity.

Greece has been moving towards more inclusive LGBTQ+ policies for almost a decade. It has allowed civil same-sex unions since 2015, granted legal recognition of gender identity in 2017, and banned conversion therapy in 2022. However, this recent bill faced significant pushback from various quarters, with some parties vehemently opposed to the law while others criticized it for not being progressive enough.

The primary opposition to the bill came from Greece’s Orthodox Church, which views homosexuality as a sin. Additionally, far-right parties labeled the bill as “anti-Christian,” arguing that it conflicted with Greece’s national interests.

On the other hand, LGBTQ+ activists noted the bill’s failure to recognize gender identities beyond the binary and shortcomings in facilitating access to reproductive technology for same-sex couples. Syriza, a left-wing party, further critiqued the bill for not granting same-sex couples the ability to become parents through surrogacy.

Despite criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, the bill passed due to substantial backing by 4 left-wing parties (including Syriza, despite its reservations) and rare cross-party unity. With 74 MPs voting against, 2 abstaining, and 46 absent during the vote, the bill easily secured a simple majority.

In passing its marriage equality bill, Greece became the 16th country in the European Union and the 35th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Despina Paraskeva, Amnesty International Greece’s Campaign Coordinator, highlighted the bill’s significance, stating “this law represents an important milestone in the fight against homophobia and transphobia and a hard-won victory for those who have led that fight. It gives same-sex couples and their children the visibility and rights that they have long been denied.”

As anti-LGBTQ+ legislation continues to be passed in countries around the world, Greece’s growing recognition of LGBTQ+ rights and the importance of freedom of expression deserves celebration and sets an example of inclusive policy-making for nations to emulate. 

For further information, please see:

Aljazeera – Greece first Orthodox Christian country to legalise same-sex marriage – 16 Feb. 2024

Amnesty International – Greece: Same-sex marriage recognition, key milestone in fight against homophobia and transphobia – 16 Feb. 2024

NBC News – Greece legalizes same-sex marriage in a first for an Orthodox Christian nation – 15 Feb. 2024

NPR – Greece legalizes same-sex marriage despite church opposition – 15 Feb. 2024

NPR – In Greece, same-sex couples await a landmark parliamentary vote on marriage equality – 14 Feb. 2024

Reuters – Greece legalises same sex marriage in landmark change – Feb 16. 2024




Author: Sydney Krause