On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, Greece’s Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity passed with a large parliamentary majority a bill allowing major changes to the country’s adoption and fostering laws. The new legislation reduces the bureaucracy around the adoption process, and its Article 8 implements a historic change: same-sex couples in civil partnerships can now become foster parents.
Out of Greece’s 300-seat parliament, a total of 264 deputies voted, with161 MPs in favor of the bill and 103 against. At the request of the far-right Golden Dawn a roll-call vote followed, which showed that two deputies from the leftist governing party SYRIZA had voted against the bill, while two from the right-wing ANEL (the second party of the governing coalition) and 4 from liberal-conservative New Democracyvoted in favor.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke on the issue of child fostering, saying that:
Fostering provides for the child to be able to return to their natural parents who, in addition, should be in contact with them during this period. I would say without exaggeration that fostering as an act is a model of altruism, solidarity and offering for those who choose it.
Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity Theano Fotiou commented that the bill represents a lifeline for children in institutions:
The Parliament embraced the adoption and fostering bill as it should; it is really a “breath of life” for children in Institutions but also for the society, that is, for all those who are waiting to open their arms and their house for a child.
Some days prior to the vote, there was an intervention by 55 academics from Greece and abroad on the subject of fostering and adoption by homosexual couples:
Empirical research does not support the perception that upbringing by a homosexual parent affects the development of gender identity of the child, and there is no empirical evidence that the presence of both male and female models at home promotes the adaptability and well-being of children and adolescents.
Three major conquests by the LGBTQI+ community
In recent years, Greece has introduced several laws aimed at ending discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Reactions by public figures and public opinion
This newest legislation was condemned by the Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod, in a statement on the very next day, expressed its strong opposition to child fostering by gay couples and asserted its important role in Greek society:
The Church of Greece reminds the public that it is the most crucial mass institution of the Greek people and therefore has the right of public speech, like any other social entity, without claiming to impose its views on the state.
On Twitter, Greek netizens reacted predictably, with most except the traditionally opposed expressing support for the new law.
Olympia Anastasopoulou, a member of Greece’s Supreme Court and of the Potami party noted:
child fostering by same-sex couples. We are supporting and voting it as European citizens (it is a legal obligation of our country), but also as parents: what would you prefer to have for your own children if, perish the thought, they had to choose between an institution and a family nest?
Twitter user Yponavarchos criticized the voting stance of Liana Kanelli, a deputy representing the Greek Communist Party, who has an adopted son and has been the subject of rumors about her sexual orientation:
Imagine being a lesbian with a child and, despite that, you declare “abstention” during the bill voting for child fostering by homosexual couples.
That’s what it means to be an obscurantist Communist Party of Greece
LIANA, RIDICULOUS ONCE AGAIN .
User NoMoreLies opposed the bill and saw the traditional conspiracy theories:
Now that the Syriza people passed the bill for child fostering by homosexual couples, they can proceed to elections.
They executed the orders of [George] Soros.
– Open borders✅
– Destruction of the traditional family✅
– People impoverishment✅
Giorgos Koumoutsakos, a deputy representing the conservative New Democracy and member of the European Parliament, explained his voting stance:
I am among those who voted in favor of the civil partnership agreement, as the state had to regulate an already existing social situation. However, I will not vote for child fostering by homosexual couples. My only and catalytic criterion is the respect for children’s rights.
Reactions within the LGBTQI community
Prominent author and radio producer Auguste Corteau expressed horror at the stance of a number of Greek MPs during the hearing:
Politicians who today oppose – many of them with horrible impertinence – in child fostering and adoption by homosexual couples have already rightfully won a place in the darkened dusty depths of the history limbo.
Marina Galanou, a trans rights activist, highlighted the absence of the Minister of Justice, Stavros Kontonis:
I read that the Minister of Justice, Mr Kontonis, was not present during the voting for the fostering extension. Any justification for obligations in his ministry has no value: the Minister for Justice and HUMAN RIGHTS can not be absent to vote for a law that (although he did not compose it) concerns human rights.
Rainbow Families, an LBGT parents advocacy group also criticized the Justice Minister and the general stance of political parties:
All of us in the Rainbow Families come out of this process with a bitter taste in the mouth. On the road to equality, they again left us “back” and therefore we can not “celebrate” but continue with more strength and vigor our struggle until we find justice.
Journalist and LGBT activist Grigoris Vallianatos expressed his dissatisfaction in a personal account on Facebook, saying that the state still had much more work to do:
Here goes. We are legal but not equal. We can have a civil partnership agreement, not marriage. We can only have a civil partnership agreement with citizens of EU countries. We can foster children, not adopt them. We can only enjoy our gender if we achieve male and female stereotypes. It’s like “respecting” us from the middle and above. Or from the middle [of our body] and below.