Archbishop Ieronymos rejects the gender identity bill

Archbishop Ieronymos rejects the gender identity bill

Greek Archbishop Ieronymos II (C) looks on during the swearing-in ceremony of the New Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (Unseen) in the parliament in Athens on March 13, 2015. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church objects to the minimum age limit that the bill sets

Archbishop Denounces Greek Bill Allowing 15-Year-Olds to Choose Their Gender

By THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

The archbishop of Athens has denounced a bill allowing persons as early as 15 years old to choose their legal gender, even if it disagrees with their biological sex.

The head of the Orthodox Church in Greece, Athens Archbishop Ieronymos II, said the new bill is not in keeping with the traditions of the Greek people or with the Christian faith.

“All that is game playing. The Church has its own views. Our homeland has its own traditions, it has the family, everything else is just contrivances so that we waste our time,” the archbishop said Monday.

The proposed law, titled “Legal Recognition of Gender Identity – National Mechanism for the Development, Monitoring and Evaluation of Action Plans on Children’s Rights,” is currently being debated in the Greek Parliament, and is expected to pass by majority vote later this week.

According to the new bill, all persons will have the right to change their gender identity based on their personal self-perception.

“Every person has a right to the recognition of his gender identity,” said Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos last summer before posting the draft bill for public consultation.

The bill states that gender identity, “means the personal way in which a person experiences his or her sex, irrespective of the sex registered on their birth certificate on the basis of his/her biological characteristics.”

Gender identity includes “the personal perception of the body, as well as the social and external expression of gender, which corresponds to the will of the person,” the bill declares.

Since gender identity is a psychological rather than physical phenomenon, the bill asserts, a person may request corrections to his or her legal gender when it is misidentified on the birth certificate.

The proposed bill stipulates that “in the event of a gender identity disagreement, the person may request correction of their registered sex so that it corresponds to the will, the personal sensation of the body, and the appearance of the person.”

The correction of one’s registered sex is determined by a court order and requires no medical treatment or intervention, but a person can change the sex on his or her birth certificate only one time.

The draft bill came in response to a call by the Ombudsman last April for “immediate adoption of swift, transparent, accessible procedures for the change of identity card and other identification documents of transgender people” in accordance with Resolution 2048/2015 of the plenary of the Parliamentary Conference of the Council of Europe.

In his remarks Monday, Archbishop Ieronymos criticized House Speaker Nikos Voutsi as well, especially for his argument in favor of the bill based on a separation between Church and State.

“Have you considered what the role of the Church is, not only in Europe but the entire world?” the prelate asked. “The [Church] has more to offer than all embassies,” he said.

Last week, Greek Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis accepted lowering the age limit for the legal recognition of gender in the relevant draft bill.

“For us, there are no divine laws and dogmas,” Kontonis said. “We have brought a bill that is the most progressive, radical and democratic in Europe and we are ready to look further at the issues that arise.”

LGBT activists have said that the bill is a good start but does not go far enough.

According to the proposed law, if married persons wish to change their legal sex they have to divorce first, which LGBT groups find problematic, as well as the binary limitation of legal registration to males and females without recognizing “intersex” people who do not identify with either sex.

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