19th Apr 2021

New Greek family bill 'drafted by anti-feminist lobby' claim

  • Critics say the Greek family bill violates UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

A new draft bill in Greece on family law is stirring up controversy, amid accusations it was drafted by an international pro-men lobby group.

The bill amends Greek Civil Code provisions on custody of children to "strengthen the active presence of both parents in the upbringing of the child".

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But critics say it does so by violating international treaties on women and child rights.

Among them is Giota Massouridou. She is vice-president of the European Democratic Lawyers Association.

She says an anti-feminist lobby, known as the Men's Rights Movement, is behind the Greek bill.

"No government until now accepted promoting their interests," she said, adding they often try to push through equal custody rights of children in divorce cases.

The movement has its roots in the United States but is said to have spread globally.

It has claimed, among other things, that men are oppressed by women, if not more.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a US-based group fighting for civil liberties, says the movement uses legitimate grievances, like homelessness, to lure in adherents.

But ultimately, it then seeks to orient those followers to believe that women are the root cause of all problems, it says.

Massouridou said a member of the legislative drafting committee overseeing the mechanics of bill belongs to the movement.

"They are the ones who drafted the bill, and they say this publicly," she said.

Last week, the Greek ministry of justice launched a public consultation over the reforms.

Lawyers at the Refugee Support Aegean, a Greek NGO, say the proposed reform puts victims of domestic violence at high risk and neglects child asylum seekers.

They say that the Greek ministry of justice had drafted its own version of the bill, while ignoring input from legal practitioners and child psychiatrists.

They also say the bill would violate the Istanbul Convention, a treaty that seeks to protect women from violence.

It also redefines the best interests of the child in ways that complicate custody rights, they note.

Massouridou says other problems in Greece include lengthy legal battles, noting child alimony disputes can take two years before being heard in court.

Rulings by the court are then often not implemented, she added.

The bill still needs to go to a vote before the Greek plenary.

"The government [of] New Democracy has the majority of the seats, that means they can pass it even alone," she said.

'Conception' and abortion at EU parliament

Similar issues on the rights of children were put to a vote in the European Parliament earlier this month.

That said the best interests of the child must be embedded in all EU policies, procedures and actions that concern children.

But some of the amendments tabled suggest a large number of MEPs oppose issues such as abortion rights.

Although the amendment failed to pass, some 187 MEPs voted in favour of protecting children "starting from the moment of conception."

With the exception of two socialist MEPs, all were from the far-right, centre-right and conservative branches of the European Parliament.

Among those supporting the failed amendment was Germany's Manfred Weber, who also leads the dominant centre-right European People's Party.

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Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman

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The European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee have curtailed efforts to make MEPs more accountable and transparent, by rejecting amendments in a report on lobbying. How each voted on the amendments was also kept in the dark.

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