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The government of Samaras will never legalize same-sex marriage

05 December 2014 / 21:12:27  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

More than a year after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights that convicts Greece of discrimination against same-sex couples, Minister of Justice Haralambos Athanasiou has provoked violent reactions with statements on the subject.

In a television interview, he firmly stated that Greece’s present government would never adopt legislation allowing same-sex marriages. The Minister noted the following:

"I do not comment on it, it is unthinkable. Furthermore, the Convention on Human Rights itself prohibits this. It refers to marriage but between a man and a woman. We are a country that respects tradition and human nature and it is not possible to allow such marriages, at least not for this government and while I am Minister of Justice."

Commenting on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights relating to the refusal to legalize same-sex cohabitation, Athanasiou said that a special commission should consider the issue, as "it is a little dangerous to call it cohabitation". In his words, it is necessary to discuss the consequences of cohabitation, such as the adoption of children.

In conclusion, the Minister said, "There are institutions in our country. We need to look at things from a religious, political and social point of view. Things are not so simple. It is not possible for the Ministry of Justice to consider such an issue under pressure from anyone."

Two days later, he tried to correct his statement by saying, "I misused the verb with regard to the Convention on Human Rights. It does not prohibit, but does not provide for, this. It describes only marriage between a man and a woman." Then subsequently, Athanasiou said, "This is my philosophy, I believe in it. I will present this philosophy to the government and the parliament will decide."

GRReporter turned for comment to lawyer Antipas Karipoglou, former president of the liberal "Drasi" party, who is one of the most active commentators on the protection of individual rights in Greece.

"My first comment is that, as a politician, Mr. Athanasiou can have his own ideology and nobody can oblige him to act against it. However, the fact that he has firmly declared that same-sex marriage will not be allowed while he is minister in this government and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has not yet removed him from the composition of the cabinet means that this is actually the philosophy of the government itself.

The second is that with this position, the government shows that it does not accept neither the individual human rights in the way they are perceived by the West nor the scientific data. I mean the Minister's words on television that "homosexuality is against human nature." This has not been scientifically proven.

The third and most important comment in my opinion, which is more of a moral than of political nature, is that everyone can express disagreement with something, but it is absolutely unacceptable for a minister to speak about a large part of his compatriots in such an offensive manner."

Antipas Karipoglou criticized the disparagement of the Minister of Justice to the European Court of Human Rights but also to the institution itself. "Mr. Athanasiou said same-sex cohabitation should be considered and different conditions should be discussed, etc. At the same time, there is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights that convicts Greece of discrimination against same-sex couples. To back himself with arguments, the Minister included other issues, such as adoption, but they have no direct connection with it and they can be solved in another way. This makes it clear that he has no idea of how things stand in the open and democratic societies to which the Greek one wants to belong. For example, in the USA, over 40 states have permitted adoption even before passing the law on same-sex marriages.

However, the most amazing thing that Mr. Athanasiou said was that the Greek government could not enact the law under pressure from anyone. It is totally unthinkable for a minister of a European country to call the European Court of Human Rights ‘anyone’."

According to Karipoglou, the statements by the Minister of Justice do not bode well. "They show that the government, in view of the upcoming elections and the fact that it has suffered a defeated on all other issues, is investing in the political slogan ‘homeland, religion, family’ and in rhetoric reminiscent of old ages, which we thought were gone forever."

Tags: SocietyPoliticsSame-sex marriageCohabitationEuropean Court of Human RightsDiscriminationMinister of Justice
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