Greece approves law allowing legal sex change from 15

ATHENS, Greece – Greece's parliament on Tuesday, October 10, approved a law allowing citizens to legally change their gender from the age of 15 and without having had a medical operation, a move opposed by the influential Orthodox Church.

The governing leftist Syriza party secured the law's passage with support from the small liberal To Potami party, with 148 votes in favor out of 285 MPs present.

Out of Syriza's nine coalition MPs from the nationalist ANEL party, only one supported the law.

Under the existing framework, those seeking to change their gender identity in Greece had to first undergo surgery, a requirement rights groups say is tantamount to torture.

The main opposition party, the conservative New Democracy, nominally supported the initiative but wanted to set a minimum age requirement of 18.

"For us it is inconceivable to bar 15-year-olds from consuming alcohol, yet enabling them to take such an important decision," opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

"Citizens who identify themselves as transgender are humiliated, stigmatized and marginalized. It is our duty to defend their rights," To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis told the chamber.

In a speech in parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had urged lawmakers to make an "act of bravery" and defend transgender rights to self-identification.

"We are on the side of those who have no voice, or whose voice is stifled," Tsipras said.

He also criticised the Orthodox Church of Greece for asking to have the bill withdrawn.

"No tradition, no religion, no view on family can dictate keeping people on the margins of society," he said. –