The leftist-led government has submitted legislation to Parliament on the so-called cohabitation agreement expanding the rights of unmarried couples, despite reactions from its right-wing coalition partner, as well as the Church of Greece and numerous citizens.
“It is a very important and delicate issue,” Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said on Thursday, adding that her party will make its stance clear when it is debated in Parliament. SYRIZA does not control enough seats to pass the legislation on its own, but analysts say PASOK and To Potami are likely to throw their weight behind the measure regardless of any ANEL rebellion.
The cohabitation law, which is seen being extended to same-sex couples, drew thousands of critical comments during a two-week period of public consultation. It is also strongly opposed by the Church. In comments to Kathimerini on Thursday, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Ierotheos sought to play down the opposition from the traditionally conservative institution.
“The cohabitation agreement is evidently different from the Church’s proposal on the life of man,” Ierotheos said. “However, every man is free to make his own choices and, as a result, he will also have to shoulder the responsibilities which derive from these choices,” he said.
The law aims to give those who sign a cohabitation agreement the favorable tax status enjoyed by married couples and increased inheritance rights. Although the pact is now being extended to include gay couples, lawmakers have not gone as far as to include adoption rights.
Passing the law, which is expected to be voted on by December 22, will harmonize Greek legislation with European Union standards. Failure to do so has drawn sanctions from the European Court of Justice.