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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 13, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 41
Greece passes gender identity law

Prime minister affirms 'right to self-determination'
Section One
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Greece passes gender identity law

Prime minister affirms 'right to self-determination'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Greek parliament passed a law on October 9 recognizing people's right to change their legal gender markers to match their identity.

In total, 285 out of 300 lawmakers voted, with 171 backing the government's bill and 114 opposing it.

The most controversial piece of the legislation, Article 3, allowing those as young as 15 to change their gender identity, got 148 yes votes against 124 no votes.

The bill was introduced by the left-wing SYRIZA party, which passed a same-sex civil union bill in December 2015. Like the earlier civil union bill, the Transgender rights bill was opposed by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Greek prime minister and SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras gave a combative speech before the October 9 vote, challenging church intervention.

'No tradition, no religion, no perception of family requires people to remain on the sidelines, or be pushed into an institutional and social oblivion. None!' he told Parliament.

'The parliament is being called upon today to do the obvious towards a substantial part of our fellow citizens who were deliberately kept invisible by the state for decades. It is called upon to ensure the right to self-determination for every person living in this country.'

Tsipras then turned toward opposition members of parliament, who had carefully avoided taking a position on Trans rights.

'Are you in favor or against? At least answer with a yes or no!' he demanded.

In the end, the opposition New Democracy party voted against the government's bill. So did the small right-wing ANEL party, which is part of SYRIZA's governing coalition. Although ANEL announced on September 27 that it would withdraw its objections to the bill, all but one of its 10 members voted no. ANEL leaders are known to be allied with high-ranking Orthodox Church officials.





The left-wing SYRIZA and right-wing ANEL came together to form a government after Greece's 2015 election because both oppose the fiscal austerity policies imposed on Greece by the European Union.

The debate on the bill was long - almost two days - and intense, with party leaders trading accusations.

New Democracy boss Kyriakos Mitsotakis cited the case of a young man who claimed to have been advised by aliens to change his gender, provoking an angry reaction from Tsipras, who condemned his rival for suggesting that Trans people are mentally ill.

There were several other tense moments in Parliament, such as when Union of Centrists leader Vassilis Leventis said changing gender identity should not be allowed.

'These are abnormal things,' he declared to boos from SYRIZA members and visitors observing from the gallery.

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