The leftist-led government managed to push a controversial law allowing Greeks to change their sexual identity through Parliament on Tuesday with 171 votes in favor thanks to the votes of centrist To Potami while its junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) failed to support the bill.
In total, out of the 285 lawmakers who voted, 171 were in favor of the bill and 114 against.
The controversial Article 3, allowing those as young as 15 to change their gender identity, garnered a yes vote from 148 lawmakers with 124 voting against it.
Main opposition New Democracy voted down the government’s bill and proposed its own version of Article 3 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.
The main issue for the government, however, was the stance of its junior partner ANEL, whose leader Panos Kammenos was absent from the vote – on an official visit to Brazil – and whose MPs, bar one, Costas Zouraris, opposed the controversial legislation.
One SYRIZA lawmaker, Georgia Gennia, the sole dissenter from her party, cited objections to Article 3, which allowed for minors as young as 15 to change their gender identity.
The vote was preceded by a day-and-a-half of vehement debate in Parliament, culminating with a clash between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis told Tsipras that ANEL is “causing you great political problems on certain issues such as this one.” Tsipras shot back that Mitsotakis was struggling to maintain cohesion in his own party.
One reference by the ND chief – involving the case of a young man who claimed to have been advised by aliens to change his gender – provoked an angry reaction by the premier, who condemned Mitsotakis for suggesting that people considering changing their gender need psychological support.
There were several other tense moments in Parliament, such as when Union of Centrists leader Vassilis Leventis said changing one’s gender identity should not be allowed. “These are abnormal things,” he declared.
In a statement after the vote, an ND official declared that the government had been “injured” by the ballot. “The bill passed with fewer than 151 votes, showing that the majority of a government that has come off the rails has already cracked and the only thing still holding it together is opportunism.”
The bill not only fueled a political storm and exposed divisions within the coalition – it also alienated the Church of Greece, which has condemned the bill for “provoking public sentiment” and “torpedoing the holy institution of the family.” Shortly before the vote Archbishop Ieronymos had appealed to politicians not to support the bill.