Greek church bells ring funeral toll over sex change law


Churches in a western Greek region will ring funeral bells every day until Saturday to protest a new law that makes it easier for people to change their legally recognized gender, clerics said on Monday.

Greece's parliament passed a law last week which allows people over 15 to change their gender on official documents with a court ruling, without requiring medical tests or sterilization as was the case until now.

The bill laid bare divisions within the left-right coalition government and led to debates between the ruling leftist party and the conservative opposition.

It has also angered the powerful Orthodox Church, which demanded it be withdrawn.

Clerics of the Orthodox Diocese of Kalavryta and Egialia decided that churches in their region will ring the funeral toll for three minutes every day until October 21.

On Monday, Skai TV showed a banner on the facade of a church in the city of Egio reading "Christian morals have been murdered" as church bells rang in mourning.

"I want to share with you my agony and we may turn it into a protest movement," Bishop Amvrosios of Kalavryta told clerics on Saturday, before the decision was made.

"We may be able to influence others too and lead to a revolt."

The clerics' decision said it was "an outrageous inspiration to allow a person to change gender with a simple application, in a few minutes, contrary to what God gave humans" and called homosexuality a "deadly sin."

"The frivolous passing of the law, which opposes human nature and biology and leads to the abominable sin of homosexuality, creates unrest and confusion."

The law was welcomed by human rights activists. Amnesty International said it was a historic step forward for transgender people in Greece.