NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

Why Greece Succeeded Where India Failed

A few weeks ago, Greece legalized same-sex marriage. This landmark case resulted in Greek same-sex couples to be permitted the same rights and privileges experienced by heterosexual couples. As I read the news from my American dorm room, I was excited for the future of LGBTQ+ rights in Greece.  

As a queer Indian, however, my blood couldn’t help but boil with jealousy. In October 2023, the Supreme Court of India refused to legalize same-sex marriage. While gay couples can still get a civil union, this decision denied these couples the right to the dignity of marriage and prohibited adoption by same-sex couples.  

India and Greece are both two very orthodox countries, but one was able to pass this landmark decision while the other failed. What caused this difference?  


Grecian history contains many examples of same-sex relationships; hundreds of texts, paintings, and statues from ancient Greece depict same-sex relationships positively. During this time, Greek culture did not have a dichotomy between heterosexual and homosexual relationships, but rather allowed citizens to participate in relationships without labels. It has even been speculated that the militaries of ancient Greece promoted same-sex relationships in order to increase the bond between soldiers.  

After perusing written records, historians have reported that the renowned philosopher Plato had a relationship with a man named Dion. By the fifth century, it seems that same-sex relationships between men were seen as completely normal. Due to the lack of sources by and about women, we can’t say whether same-sex relationships between women were equally permissible, but sources such as Sappho of Lesbos allow us to infer that they were at least partially accepted.  

As the Greek mythological tradition died out and was replaced by Christianity, the prevalence of writing on same-sex relationships decreased, due to the church classifying same-sex relationships as sinful. It took until 1951 for sex between consenting men to be decriminalized, with civil unions only becoming acceptable in 2015.  

India has an equally long history of same-sex relationships. Several Hindu stories speak about same-sex relationships. Even as the region became more conservative, the ideas of reincarnation and divine sex changes were used to tell these stories. Same-sex relationships continued to flourish after Islam was introduced to India; famously, the Mughal king Babur is widely believed to have been smitten with his male slave Baburi.  

When Portuguese traders came to India, they brought their laws with them, criminalizing same-sex relationships. Later came the arrival of the British, who made an effort to change religious texts that they found immoral. This homophobia became a part of the Indian conscience, and remained so even after independence. Homosexuality only became legal in India in 2018.  


On Feb. 14, Greece just barely managed to legalize same-sex marriage, with 176 of the 300 representative in the parliament approving the bill. Written by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the law allows same-sex couples to adopt children for the first time. It gained support from several left-leaning parties, including the main opposition party Syriza.  

Opposing the bill was the conservative branch of Mitsotakis’s own New Democracy party, along with communist and far-right parties. Despite heavy criticism from the highly influential Church of Greece, opinion polls showed that the bill was narrowly supported by Greek citizens.  

On Oct. 17 last year, the Indian Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was not legal in India, but emphasized that same-sex couples should not face discrimination. This is an absurd statement, in my opinion, that boils down to “discrimination is wrong unless it is state-sponsored.” This resulted in great joy from conservative leaders from all of India’s religious groups, who had been asking the government to reject this proposal.  


No politician ever makes a decision without considering political benefit, and these cases should not be seen as exceptions. New Democracy has always been quiet about the topic of same-sex marriage, so why did they break their silence now? It may be due to pressure from the European Union, which has pressured Greece on social justice topics in the past.  

However, I feel that this is unlikely, because the European Union political group which New Democracy is a part of, the European People’s Party Group, has also been quiet about their opinions on LGBTQ+ rights. Instead, I believe this may be a way of getting a favor from the liberal parties of Greece. This is unlikely to affect the election polls, as people are more worried about the rising cost of living than they are about gay marriage.  

In addition, the protests by the Church of Greece were largely drowned out by the upcoming farmers’ and students’ protests. By passing this bill, New Democracy can now call in a favor from the left-leaning parties without fear of alienating their voter base.  

In India, the political climate is very different. The current government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has gained considerable support from Hindu religious leaders. This political strategy, which is often called Hindutva, has led to a rise in Hindu nationalism and conservatism in the past few years.  

All the judges on the current Supreme Court were appointed by a BJP government, so it makes sense that they would support Hindutva policies. In addition, the BJP government has often been accused of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian activities. Because the homophobic protests resulted in an unprecedented alliance of religious leaders from all of India’s religious groups, supporting the rejection of same-sex marriage was an easy way for the BJP to reject claims that they have discriminated against Muslims and Christians while still encouraging their Hindu voter base.  

The BJP is already alienated from those who strongly support same-sex marriage, with the only major party that supports these issues being the declining Indian National Congress. While the BJP has at times supported LGBTQ+ rights in words, they have never put their money where their mouth is. 

Final Thoughts  

Overall, it makes sense that this bill passed in Greece but not in India. The leading party in Greece needed additional support to pass the laws they needed to secure another election victory, and likely saw that legalizing same-sex marriage would be a great way to get that support from left-leaning parties without alienating their right-leaning voter base. Meanwhile, the leading party of India saw rejecting same-sex marriage as a means to quell rumors of their religious intolerance while still establishing themselves as the protectors of Hindu ideology.  

Still, I can’t help but have hope for the future of same-sex marriage in India. India has a long history of same-sex relationships, which only really stopped after the Europeans came to India. Maybe if we can convince people that homophobia isn’t a facet of Hindu culture, but instead a stain of colonialism, we can encourage the BJP to reconsider same-sex marriage in India. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Vector

Your donation will support the student journalists of New Jersey Institute of Technology. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Vector

Comments (0)

All The Vector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *