Greece’s opposition vows to legalize same-sex marriage

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The leader of Greece’s opposition has promised to legalize same-sex marriage with full parental rights if he wins a general election next month, in a move that would make it the first predominantly Orthodox Christian country to do so.

Alexis Tsipras, who heads the main left-wing opposition party, Syriza, said his government would grant same-sex couples the legal right to marry.

“The time has finally come, victory for our party will ... mean full rights for couples regardless of their gender,” Tsipras said in a recorded video message at an event organized by the youth wing of his party Monday and posted on the Internet Tuesday.

Tsipras said Greece should adopt recommendations made in a resolution passed by the European Parliament in 2021, urging EU member states to fully harmonize rights for same-sex couples with those granted more broadly.

Same-sex marriage is recognized across most of western Europe, but not in Italy and Greece where civil partnerships exist, along with most other EU members in eastern Europe.

The 48-year-old Tsipras is challenging center-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the May 21 election. He is trailing in opinion polls despite a narrowing lead for the conservatives in recent weeks following a deadly rail disaster.

Strict financial controls on European Union bailout lenders ended last year, and the election battle so far has focused largely on social issues, that include a pledge last week by the prime minister to extend a wall on the Greek-Turkish border to keep out migrants.

Against opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church and political conservatives, same-sex civil unions were legalized in 2015 under a previous government led by Tsipras.

LGBT groups in Greece have long campaigned for members of their communities to have full family rights and sought the tougher enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

A annual report on human rights by the U.S. State Department praised efforts by authorities to address violence and discrimination but added that attacks against LGBT individuals have persisted.