Stefanos Kasselakis, Greece’s first openly gay political party leader and the recent head of the main opposition left-wing Syriza, has sparked a significant discussion in the nation by publicly addressing the taboo subject of same-sex couples having children through surrogacy. Kasselakis, who assumed his role unexpectedly, stated that his aim was to shed light on an issue rarely discussed in Greece – the rights of the LGBTQ community.
In a Facebook post, Kasselakis emphasized the importance of recognizing that “Love makes the family.” He remarked that while these issues had been resolved in other countries, Greece lagged behind in openly discussing them. He declared, “That’s why I entered politics. To stir stagnant waters, to awaken consciences, not to caress them in their sleep.”
Challenging the Norms
Stefanos Kasselakis faced a fierce backlash after announcing his intention to expand his family with his American husband, Tyler McBeth, through surrogacy. He expressed their desire to have two sons named Apollon and Elias, with the goal of passing on their personalities to the children. Criticism came from both social conservatives influenced by the Greek Orthodox church and progressives within Syriza who accused Kasselakis of misogyny and narcissism.
Elena Akrita, a Syriza MP and supporter of Kasselakis, countered the notion of “reproduction of our DNA,” emphasizing that love and affection were the essential elements in raising children. Kasselakis, in response to the controversy, clarified that his comments were not about preferring a particular gender for his children but were driven by a sense of responsibility and empathy. He highlighted that in any couple, regardless of gender, the goal is to be good parents.
The Path Towards LGBTQ+ Rights
While Greece has made some progress in LGBTQ+ rights under the current center-right government, including lifting the prohibition on gay men donating blood and banning medical interventions on intersex children, homophobia remains prevalent. Same-sex marriage, a long-debated issue, is now part of the government’s strategy, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis signaling its introduction in the near future.
Despite his groundbreaking role as an openly gay political leader, Kasselakis has faced criticism from LGBTQ+ solidarity groups for not being vocal enough about queer or trans rights. Advocates like Nancy Papathanasiou stress the need for a more nuanced approach to parenthood as he occupies a position of political leadership in Greece.
In a country where LGBTQ+ rights are still evolving, Stefanos Kasselakis’s journey as a prominent LGBTQ+ figure reflects both the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead on the path to greater acceptance and equality.