Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus
Plans to legalise same-sex partnerships in Greece have apparently been dropped in defiance of an EU court ruling, following excommunication threats by an Orthodox Christian cleric.
Earlier this week, one of the parties in the country’s coalition government announced it would put forward a bill to legalise gay civil unions.
The government had earlier said that it was in support of including gay couples in civil union legislation.
However, according to Gay Star News, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy party are no longer backing the proposed changes to the law.
The reversal comes after Orthodox Christian Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, who described homosexuality as a “terrible sin”, on Thursday threatened to excommunicate MPs who supported the recognition of same-sex partnerships.
He also called on the church to hold an emergency meeting on the issue.
In 2010, the bishop accused “international Zionism” of trying to destroy the family unit by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages.
Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Greece for failing to include same-sex couples in the country’s civil partnership law.
The government was ordered to pay the six complainants in the case 5,000 euros (R69,000) each in damages.
Greece is one of the most conservative European countries when it comes to LGBT issues. In addition to having no legal recognition in Greece, gay couples are not allowed to jointly adopt children.
In 2012, anti-gay protestors threw eggs and plastic bottles at participants in a Pride parade in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece.
The incident followed homophobic comments by that city’s Bishop Anthimos, who described the Pride celebrations as “unacceptable” and “immoral”.