Gender identity law passes, hurts government unity

People celebrate following a parliamentary vote of a law that allows citizens to declare a gender change on official documents in Athens, Tuesday.

TAGS: Politics, Society

A controversial law on gender identity passed by parliament Tuesday afternoon was a blow to the coalition government’s unity as lawmakers from junior partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) voted either no or present. This included the president of ANEL, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who submitted his vote in absentia and also voted no.

One SYRIZA lawmaker, Georgia Genia, was the sole dissenter from her party, who cited objections to article 3, which allowed for minors as young as 15 to change their gender identity.

The saving grace for the government was To Potami, whose lawmakers voted yes.

In total, out of 285 lawmakers who voted, 171 voted yes and 114 voted no. The controversial article that allows for those as young as 15 to change their gender identity garnered a yes vote from 148 lawmakers, though it also passed since that was more than half the number of lawmakers present for the roll call.  

Main opposition New Democracy voted no and proposed their own version of the law that would raise the minimum age for changing one’s gender identity to 18 and allow for such a change to only be made once. 

Democratic Alignment voted present, saying they wanted further examination of the law to be made, particularly related to article 3. The rest of the opposition parties all voted no.

A heated debate took place in parliament over the law, with main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis accusing the government of making a show of left-wing progressiveness while exercising conservative policies. Hitting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's lack of support from his junior coalition partner on the law saying ANEL is “causing you great political problems on certain issues such as this one.”

Tsipras shot back accusing Mitsotakis of “filling political quotas in order to maintain cohesion within his own party.”

Members of the transgender community have said the bill will improve their daily lives by allowing them to have identity papers that match the gender they identify with, and reduce discrimination they face in many everyday transactions that require the use of an identity card.