Despite PM Alexis Tsipras’ fierce defence of foster parenting by same-sex couples who are bound by a legal civil partnership (Article 8 of an adoption and foster parenting law passed yesterday), he was unable to persuade a number of his own MPs, despite the huge pressure exerted on them and Tsipras’ admonition that they not cave in to “petty partisan interests”.

The issue internally split SYRIZA, its junior coalition partner the Independent Greeks, and New Democracy, as renegade MPs in each of the parties defied the party line.

Two SYRIZA MPs (Yannis Michelogiannakis and Theodoros Parastatidis) voted down the article. Two others – Markos Bolaris and Georgia Gennia – showed their opposition by not even coming to parliament for the vote. Alternate Foreign Minister Yorgos Katrougalos did the same, but he came to parliament shortly after the vote for a committee meeting.

Tsipras’ supposed left-wing intra-party opposition, the “Group of 53”, appeared angered at the renegades, mostly former Pasok members, who refused to toe the party line and vote for same-sex fostering parenting. They were also outraged by the stance of some Independent Greeks MPs who did not support Article 8, especially Kostas Katsikis.

Katsikis said that homosexuality is a crime, comparable to paedophilia. “Love for paedophilia is a crime. Why should it be treated differently than love for homosexuality?» he declared.

A group of 16 MPs signed a letter to Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis – who blasted Katsikis – demanding that he be summoned before parliament’s disciplinary committee.

Only two Independent Greeks MPs – Kostas Zouraris and Thanasis Papachristopoulos – broke the party line to vote yes for same-sex foster parenting. Party leader Panos Kammenos was not present for the vote.

Fissures in New Democracy

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government was in a panic and that it tried to polarise the political climate on a socially sensitive issue.

Tsipras said that Mitsotakis is flirting with “extreme-right populism”.

Mitsotakis’ own sister, ND MP Dora Bakoyannis, was among four conservative deputies who voted for Article 8, the others being Katerina Markou, Niki Kerameos, and Olga Kefaloyanni.

Markou, who left the liberal To Potami party to join ND, caused outrage in the party, because she had argued against Article 8 as party rapporteur. She said that she had gone to ND to express liberal positions.

Anna Karavokyri