Greek Bishop Warns MP Excommunications

Bishop Seraphim

ATHENS – An Orthodox Christian Bishop in Greece is threatening to excommunicate lawmakers in his diocese who support efforts to legalize civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

Metropolitan Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, the port city next to Athens, described homosexuality as a “terrible sin” and said it was his duty to expel lawmakers if they support the proposed changes. He called on the church’s governing Holy Synod to hold an emergency meeting on the issue.

Earlier this month, the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights condemned Greece for failing to include same-sex couples in a 2008 civil partnership law.

A senior Interior Ministry official said that changes to the law to conform to the court decision were “imperative” but did not say when legislation would be brought to Parliament.

The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has blocked legislation that would allow cohabitation agreements for gay and lesbian couples after some lawmakers from his New Democracy Conservatives joined the Greek Church in opposing the proposal.

A pending bill to increase penalties for hate crimes though may include sexual orientation as a category that would be protected. Greece is under pressure to improve its gay rights record after having twice been found guilty in cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

Seraphim referred to attempts to make “this terrible sin of homosexuality, sodomy, unnatural sexual intercourse, pederasty and paedophilia, to appear as a normal state, as diversity,” and added that the “the universal consciousness over the centuries recognises as normal behaviour the relations between man and woman”.

He said that any other kind of relationship was “a unnatural aberration not even observed in animals.”

In his text, the cleric also maintained that “for the Church Fathers, homosexuality is the most disgusting and unclean sin” and that any support for homosexuality constituted “great disrespect for God”.