The Nation and the World

Greek locals speak on the legalization of same-sex marriage in Greece

Anna Tsiknaki, 16, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and George Orfanides, 15, an LGBTQ+ ally, are residents of the island of Crete, the largest Greek island. Even though they aren’t in close proximity to the Greek capital of Athens, they say the news of the Greek government passing a bill legalizing gay marriage incited intense reactions from citizens, and especially in Anna’s and George’s personal lives. 

On February 15, 2024, Greece became the first Orthodox nation to legalize the marriage of same sex couples. According to Greek reporter Niki Kitsantonis, Greece’s New Democracy-led government proposed and later passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages, despite opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Anna believes that even though this bill is a remarkable accomplishment for Greece on a legal level, the country still has many more steps to take on an interpersonal level when combating homophobia. 

“So, I’m definitely happy that the bill has been passed, and I’m aware that this is a historic moment because Greece is the first Orthodox country to have legalized same sex marriage. I’m glad that we as a community have decided to make a step forward and leave toxic ideologies behind,” Anna said. “But I certainly think that we still have a lot to face and to learn as a country. There are still people from the community being publicly harassed and assaulted for just being a part of it. We may have passed such a progressive bill but I don’t think it represents a large portion of the community because crimes against members of the community are still very much being committed.” 

Anna detailed her thoughts about Greece’s ongoing homophobia issue, despite the new bill, saying, “I think especially right now we are leaning more conservative as a country, even with the bill being passed, to be honest. I can give you very recent examples of LGBT members being harassed and generally members of the community are dealing with a lot of homophobia daily. I don’t think we’re in the worst position we could be, of course, but it’s sad seeing and hearing stuff like public humiliations and harassment on the daily.” 

Anna also acknowledged that despite Greek society being rooted in Orthodox Christianity, she believes that it’s possible for people to be more accepting while retaining their religious beliefs, saying, “We are a religious country and I’m very aware that it cannot and it shouldn’t change, but I’m asking for religion and religious people to reconsider their values and morals, have some empathy and finally realize that homosexuality is not a sin that you should accuse people of commiting.”

George, an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, expressed his thoughts on the passing of the bill, despite its limited effect on his life, as many citizens of Greece who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ are also interested in following the path of the bill and watching the progression of Greece’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ citizens. 

“The new bill was a bit surprising. I didn’t really think Greece would be the first Orthodox country to allow same-sex marriage, but here we are. It’s certainly great to see the country being supportive of the LGBTQ+ movement by passing that bill, and it’s also cool how they passed it one day after Valentine’s Day,” says George. 

Greece also has a number of other laws protecting its LGBTQ+ citizens, such as a law that bans conversion therapy, passed in May 2022, according to Reuters. The Greek Parliament also passed a bill guaranteeing equality through protection in the workplace regardless of gender, religion or sexual orientation in December of 2016, according to Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper.

Image Source: Anna Tsiknaki

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