A law that will permit same-sex couples to become foster parents, and which is being debated in parliament today, has caused political turbulence within and between political parties, with even some MPs for ruling Syriza, which sponsored the bill, threatening to vote it down in a roll-call vote.
The bill also simplifies and expedites adoption procedures, and it was passed in principle today. But it is article eight, on foster parenting by same-sex couples, which cause inter-party and intra-party turmoil.
The bill has also divided SYRIZA and its right-wing coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, whose leader is Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.
Main opposition New Democracy will vote down same-sex foster parenting, though some MPs have decided to break the party line, including former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis (who will vote for it if party discipline is not imposed) and former tourism minister Olga Kekaloyanni.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended the bill in a speech to parliament and lambasted New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis for, as he said, opposing the bill for populist reasons: to avoid the political cost in his conservative base.
“The first issue that the bill resolves is that children that are living in orphanages will no longer be invisible. No state and no organised polity can allow these souls to be treated as the outcasts of society,’ he said.
“We are creating an electronic database with the personal data on each child, so that we may know how many and which children are seeking a family. We want to handle the issue comprehensively, with the self-evident aim of not marginalising any child, not leaving any child in an orphanage,” the PM said.
“The second major issue we are resolving concerns prospective parents. Until now they have had to wait up to six years for the process to move forward,” he said. “The foster parenting approval process will be completed in a maximum timeframe of 8-12 months,” the PM said.
The bill also simplifies and expedites adoption – which will still not be permitted for same-sex couples – procedures.
A court hearing will follow, for which there will coordination with the justice ministry to expedite the court date, both for foster parenting and adoption.
“Foster parenting, as an act, is a model of altruism, solidarity and service, for those who choose it. They choose only to offer to a child, without acquiring rights. The bill establishes uniform standards of parental suitability foster parents in all cases,” the PM said.