Gen­der ID bill scrapes into law, tax­ing gov’t unity

ND ac­cuses coali­tion of op­por­tunism

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The left­ist-led gov­ern­ment man­aged to push a con­tro­ver­sial law al­low­ing Greeks to change their sex­ual iden­tity through Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day with 171 votes in fa­vor thanks to the votes of cen­trist To Po­tami while its ju­nior coali­tion part­ner In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL) failed to sup­port the bill.

In to­tal, out of the 285 law­mak­ers who voted, 171 were in fa­vor of the bill and 114 against.

The con­tro­ver­sial Ar­ti­cle 3, al­low­ing those as young as 15 to change their gen­der iden­tity, gar­nered a yes vote from 148 law­mak­ers with 124 vot­ing against it.

Main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy voted down the gov­ern­ment’s bill and pro­posed its own ver­sion of Ar­ti­cle 3 that would raise the min­i­mum age for chang­ing one’s gen­der iden­tity to 18 and al­low for such a change to only be made once.

The main is­sue for the gov­ern­ment, how­ever, was the stance of its ju­nior part­ner ANEL, whose leader Panos Kam­menos was ab­sent from the vote – on an of­fi­cial visit to Brazil – and whose MPs, bar one, Costas Zouraris, op­posed the con­tro­ver­sial leg­is­la­tion.

One SYRIZA law­maker, Ge­or­gia Gen­nia, the sole dis­senter from her party, cited ob­jec­tions to Ar­ti­cle 3, which al­lowed for mi­nors as young as 15 to change their gen­der iden­tity.

The vote was pre­ceded by a dayand-a-half of ve­he­ment de­bate in Par­lia­ment, cul­mi­nat­ing with a clash be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and ND leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis. Mit­so­takis told Tsipras that ANEL is “caus­ing you great po­lit­i­cal prob­lems on cer­tain is­sues such as this one.” Tsipras shot back that Mit­so­takis was strug­gling to main­tain co­he­sion in his own party. One ref­er­ence by the ND chief – in­volv­ing the case of a young man who claimed to have been ad­vised by aliens to change his gen­der – pro­voked an an­gry re­ac­tion by the premier, who con­demned Mit­so­takis for sug­gest­ing that peo­ple con­sid­er­ing chang­ing their gen­der need psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port.

There were sev­eral other tense mo­ments in Par­lia­ment, such as when Union of Cen­trists leader Vas­silis Leven­tis said chang­ing one’s gen­der iden­tity should not be al­lowed. “These are ab­nor­mal things,” he de­clared.

In a state­ment after the vote, an ND of­fi­cial de­clared that the gov­ern­ment had been “in­jured” by the bal­lot. “The bill passed with fewer than 151 votes, show­ing that the ma­jor­ity of a gov­ern­ment that has come off the rails has al­ready cracked and the only thing still hold­ing it to­gether is op­por­tunism.”

The bill not only fu­eled a po­lit­i­cal storm and ex­posed di­vi­sions within the coali­tion – it also alien­ated the Church of Greece, which has con­demned the bill for “pro­vok­ing pub­lic sen­ti­ment” and “tor­pe­do­ing the holy in­sti­tu­tion of the fam­ily.” Shortly be­fore the vote Arch­bishop Ierony­mos had ap­pealed to politi­cians not to sup­port the bill.

Peo­ple cel­e­brate yes­ter­day fol­low­ing par­lia­men­tary ap­proval of a law al­low­ing cit­i­zens to de­clare a gen­der change with­out sex change surgery. The law ex­posed rifts within the coali­tion and pro­voked the anger of the Church of Greece.

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