Democracy was created to extend the hand of security, freedom, justice, equality to all citizens. Not turning his back on them, not pointing a finger at them“, underlined the Minister of State Akis Skertsos, in his first intervention in the committees of the Parliament, on the bill for equality in civil marriage.

Caring for minorities shows and proves the supremacy, democracy and culture of modern liberal democracies. And Greece is proudly included among these democracies and that is where it should belong. Democracy was created to extend the hand of security, freedom, justice, equality to all citizens. Not to turn his back on them, not to point the finger at them that they are citizens of another category. No – these rights are universal, they are individual fundamental rights and individual rights take precedence over any other right»

The Minister of State addressed the committee, requesting from the preamble, that this discussion be held in “as peaceful terms as possible, not in warlike terms”.

“We all know fellow human beings, fellow citizens, friends who have this sexual orientation. Therefore, even those who have a contrary opinion, I would like them to articulate it with arguments, without qualification, without disparagement, with respect, without abusive speech. Because unfortunately in the previous months in the public debate we have heard bad words about people, about children, which stigmatize human souls and can vibrate human emotions. Let us therefore be more careful, for the reason that the Parliament broadcasts to the outside. The role of politicians, the role of a liberal democracy, is to improve people’s lives even a little, to make it better, to expand rights, freedoms, to serve equality, to serve justice. I think that’s what this bill does. We must serve all citizens without discrimination and separation, because of gender, because of nationality, because of physical condition, because of beliefs, because of religions or because of sexual orientation. this is the role of liberal democracy. All MPs have been elected based on these principles of the Constitution, so let’s not go against the statutory principles of the constitution that we all know and we all serve”, said Akis Skertsos.

The government was not surprised

The Minister of State pointed out that the government not only did not surprise society with this draft law, but three years ago the Prime Minister commissioned a high-level commission under Mr. Siciliano to draw up a strategy for the equality of LGBTI+ members. , the report was drafted and at least 20 of the recommendations have been implemented. In the program of the New Democracy, the commitment to the completion of this strategy was reflected and the prime minister himself publicly, he said before the election, committed himself to the further completion of this strategy.

The different opinions

But how does the government deal with different opinions? “Democracy means different opinions, it means dialogue, it means listening respectfully to the opposing point of view, not pointing fingers. We are talking about a human issue. We do not separate citizens who believe in it and citizens who disagree with it, into progressive citizens and conservative citizens. It is a social issue. We need to be much more careful about the characterizations we make of other parties. Those who disagree with this may need to hear more to form a more complete view. It is an issue that for many years, for decades, was not discussed publicly,” said Mr. Skertsos. In his opinion, throughout this time Greek society has listened to opinions, has changed opinions and this is also recorded in the opinion polls: since 2015, when the cohabitation agreement was established for same-sex couples and now, the concept of marriage is much more acceptable, especially in light of the protection of the rights of children who live in same-sex families, but do not have the same rights as other children, which for this case of children, society in a percentage of more than 70% states that they should be protected.

The church

And the Church? How does the government deal with its vertical disagreement with the draft law? “We have absolute respect for the guaranteed, also constitutional, right of the Greek Orthodox Church to express itself freely, to stand for its theological views, to try to convince for them. It is her inalienable right. After all, the theological doctrine must and should be more strict and absolute in its moral rules, recognizing at the same time that we are all human, imperfect beings, and we come closer to God when we live with love, with respect, with solidarity, with bonds of faith towards the other”, said Akis Skertsos and added: “I personally honor and recognize both the social and the spiritual role of the Church. The organized state, however, has its own expanded role, but also the obligation to defend the constitutional imperatives, its competences, to assess and enforce the necessary, as a European state of law”.

Disagreeing executives

The Minister of State also referred to the disagreement among MPs within the parties, and especially in New Democracy. “New Democracy has undertaken the commitment to the Greek people to make the country more European. It is the faction that has the most post-political cohesion, it has proven this, of all the other factions, because it is the mirror of Greek society. It is to be expected, it is reasonable that there are also executives of the New Democracy who disagree with this initiative, just as there is an important part of Greek society. ND is the mirror of society, and New Democracy and other parties as well. Therefore, before you throw the ball of blame at some executives who disagree, let’s all look at all the parties and let’s not prejudge, let’s not prejudge. There may be other MPs who may abstain or disagree and vote against. This should be done with full respect for the different point of view. We will not fight socially, we will not create a new war and a new division over an issue that is fundamentally human and about justice,” said the Minister of State and added: “For us a strong nation is a nation that has open arms for all social groups, it provides multifaceted care, for all groups, without discrimination. This to us is modern, responsible patriotism. I, as a parent, as a person, cannot look into the eyes, neither my child, nor his friends, nor my relatives or acquaintances who have this sexual orientation and convincingly explain to them why what they enjoy as Greek citizens and as Europeans citizens in other European countries, Greece does not provide it to them. And this, I think, should be thought about with sincerity and humanity by every member of the Greek Parliament.”