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For rights campaigner in Greece, same-sex marriage recognition follows many years of battle

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ATHENS, Greece — Years earlier than beginning a household of her personal, Stella Belia was already waging a tireless marketing campaign for authorized recognition. Her battle could lastly be over this week – a number of months shy of her twin boys’ seventeenth birthday.

Greek lawmakers are anticipated to legalize same-sex marriage in a parliament vote Thursday, with a uncommon show of cross-party collaboration.

Approval would make Greece the primary Orthodox Christian nation to take that step, clearing a number of authorized hurdles for homosexual {couples} who have already got or need to have youngsters.

“I’ve been preventing for this ever since I found out who I used to be,” says Belia, a 57-year-old drama trainer with a gruff voice and a straightforward snigger.

“And it’s a terrific reduction to say we’ve lastly made it,” she mentioned. “However it’s tiresome, very tiresome to battle for one thing that’s an apparent proper – to undergo for one thing that different persons are simply handed – and must battle so laborious to get it.”

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Belia cut up together with her feminine accomplice when her sons have been aged 11 however she considers her to be the boys’ different mom.

Though civil partnerships have been prolonged to homosexual {couples} in Greece practically a decade in the past, solely the organic mother and father of youngsters in these relationships are at present acknowledged as authorized guardians.

The problem of youngsters’s rights, together with the publicized plight of most cancers survivors in a same-sex relationship, helped nudge public opinion towards narrowly favoring the invoice that was sponsored by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative authorities.

But it surely additionally triggered a robust response from the nation’s Orthodox Church. Representing Greece’s dominant religion, the Church argues the wedding invoice would confuse parental roles and weaken the normal household.

The Church petitioned lawmakers to rethink in a public enchantment additionally learn out at Sunday companies.

A number of outstanding bishops have taken a more durable line, warning that they’ll refuse to baptize the kids of homosexual {couples}. They allied with far-right political events and traditionalist teams to stage public demonstrations.

Protester Chara Giannakantonaki mentioned she felt compelled to attend a rally held in entrance of parliament final Sunday.

“Each minority already has its rights assured. There isn’t any problem. They don’t want (same-sex) marriage. They simply need to desecrate no matter has remained sacred in Greece: Our Church, our households and our kids,” she mentioned. “However youngsters are a pink line and we are going to by no means settle for this.”

The Mitsotakis authorities is going through dissent amongst conservatives over the invoice and can want help from the centrist and left-wing opposition to safe the 151-vote minimal within the 300-member parliament.

Dimitris Mavros, managing director of the market analysis agency MRB Hellas, mentioned the timing of the invoice gave the impression to be fastidiously calculated: Backing a measure that props up Mitsotakis’ centrist credentials however with the controversy more likely to blow over earlier than the European Union-wide elections in June.

Greeks in 2024, Mavros mentioned, have proven a pointy rise in monetary nervousness, their worries mirrored in latest strikes and ongoing farmers’ protests.

“I feel the farmers’ (protests) and excessive costs – and points that damage individuals’s pockets – are going to overshadow the same-sex {couples} problem,” he mentioned. “We’re in all probability going to get previous this calmly.”

Chrysa Gkotsopoulou and Elena Kotsifi, each engineers, for years advised their households and colleagues they have been roommates and solely got here out as a pair after transferring to England for work in 2015.

They now have a younger daughter, Ariadne, and all three journey to Greece utilizing their U.Ok. passports.

“We rapidly realized that England provided us prospects as a pair that we had by no means beforehand imagined.” Kotsifi, 38, mentioned. “We may very well be ourselves.”

They flew to Athens on the weekend to rejoice the invoice’s anticipated approval, and mentioned that for the primary time in practically a decade, they now view returning residence as a risk.

They hope to affix the activist Belia and others Thursday night time within the public gallery in parliament and celebrations set to comply with.

“If there’s room for us (in parliament), we’d prefer to go,” Gkotsopoulou mentioned. “We really feel pleasure, pleasure and satisfaction that Greece is transferring to the proper aspect of historical past.”

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