Human rights group Amnesty International has hailed Greek legislation legalizing civil partnerships for gay couples as a “historic step” however noting that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons still face hostility in the country.
“Despite this first step, LGBTI people in Greece still live in a climate of hostility from which the authorities are failing to protect them adequately,” said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“Physical attacks are on the rise, hate speech is common and goes unchecked by the authorities. Even displays of affection between same-sex couples are censored on television,” she said.
Amnesty also pointed out that the law offers no gender recognition to transgender people.
In a result announced early Wednesday, MPs voted 193-56 in favor of the bill to extend civil partnerships to same-sex couples, but provisions regarding family law that could pave the way for adoption applications by gay couples were dropped before the vote.
Lawmakers from the governing leftist SYRIZA party backed the bill, standing to clap when it passed. The party of Independent Greeks, SYRIZA’s right-wing coalition partners, and conservative New Democracy opposition were both split on the vote.
Conservative bishops in Greece's powerful Orthodox Church vehemently opposed the law, arguing that it undermined the institution of family.
“Homosexuality is a deviation from the laws of nature. It is a social crime, a sin. Those who experience or support it are not normal people,” said Bishop Amvrosios of the southern town of Kalavryta, where church bells tolled Tuesday in opposition to the bill. [Combined reports]