The Greek justice minister has denounced gay marriage as a ‘danger to respected traditions’ and a violation of human nature.
Speaking on MEGA TV this week, Charalambos Athanassiou said he was fiercely opposed to same-sex marriage because it posed a threat to society.
“I will not discuss it. I cannot even think about it. When the convention of human rights talks about marriage, it talks about a union between men and women” he said.
The European Court of human rights (ECHR) had imposed a fine on Greece last year for ‘discriminating against same-sex couple by not extending civil unions to gay and lesbian couples'.
But the court’s demands have been ignored, drawing the ire last month of the Greek Ombudsman which said that Greece was not behaving like a modern state and, refusing to extend civil unions to gays and lesbians was an embarrassment for the country, which “prolongs confusion within society, allowing society stereotypes and prejudice to be maintained along with degrading and marginalizing behaviour.”
In September, the government said it would delay legislation concerning civil unions for same-sex couples because, according to Athanassiou, more study was needed to establish how it would impact the tax and social insurance system and family law.
The delay prompted gay rights protesters to demonstrate outside parliament.
Civil unions are a legal form of partnership granted in 2008 to heterosexual couples in Greece.
Athanassiou was adamant that, under his watch, civil unions among gays and lesbians will not be permitted. “We are a country that respects traditions, respects human nature, and it’s not possible at least with this government and this ministry, to permit marriage,” he said.
Greece and Lithuania are the only EU countries that do not allow such civil unions but Athanassiou was unfazed by the fact that the rest of the EU member states do allow it.
“That’s their issue,” he said, adding that the case must be seen from a religious, political and social perspective. “The justice ministry will not be pressured by anyone, to examine such an issue without calmness and composure.”
* The European Court of Human Rights imposed a fine on Greece last year for ‘discriminating against same-sex couples'