• World
  • Greece

Greece’s Prime Minister Plans to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

3 minute read

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to legalize same-sex marriage, a huge step forward for LGBTQ rights in a region where some conservative governments are cracking down on the community.

“Same-sex marriage will happen at some point and it’s part of our strategy,” Mitsotakis, a center-right politician, said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Athens. “Greek society is much more ready and mature.”

Read More: Pride, Against All Odds

Like the majority of countries in the European Union, Greece currently recognizes same-sex unions in some form but stops shy of supporting full marriage. For its part, Greece saw a jump in a 2023 ranking of LGBTQ rights among European countries by ILGAEurope after the government banned genital mutilation on intersex children last year.

More from TIME

Read More: Meet the First Same-Sex Couple to Get Married in Northern Ireland

The Brussels-based non-governmental umbrella organization benchmarks 49 countries on their legal and policy situation for LBGTI people, from 0% to 100%. With a ranking of 57% in the latest report, up five percentage points compared to the previous year, Greece has overtaken countries such as the U.K. and Germany.

Read More: Courts in Japan Support Same-Sex Marriage, But Lawmakers Are Reluctant to Legalize It. Here’s Why

LGBTQ rights around the world have come under the spotlight once again in recent months. In Uganda lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year outlawing homosexuality, with punishments as tough as the death penalty. In the U.S. meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Ron De Santis was accused of posting a homophobic video to mark the end of Pride month. In Europe, the LGBTQ community faced increasingly targeted attacks in 2022.

Read More: The Supreme Court Just Made Same-Sex Marriage More Vulnerable to a Challenge

Momentum for change began in Greece in 2021 when Mitsotakis appointed a committee to draft a national strategy for improving LGBTQ rights. He has introduced a number of reforms since then including lifting a ban on homosexual men making blood donations and ending the practice of so-called sex normalizing surgeries on children. Few had expected him to become such a powerful force for change.

Read More: Southeast Asia’s Most Gay-Friendly Country Still Has No Law Against LGBT Discrimination

Same-sex civil partnerships were legally recognized in Greece in 2015 and gender identity in 2017, but progress on other issues had been piecemeal until Mitsotakis came to power in 2019.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com