Sunday, March 3, 2024
Sunday, March 3, 2024

Niki Kerameos on same sex marriage: Civil partnership does not ensure equality for couples

Ημερομηνία:

Niki Kerameos, Minister of Interior was guest in the show “The GPS of Current Affairs” of the First Programme of the Hellenic Radio, where she spoke with journalist Thanos Siafakas, on issues related to the bill on absentee voting, the filling of positions of hospital administrators and marriage for same-sex couples.

“The postal vote comes to remove all practical obstacles to exercise” stressed the Home Secretary at the beginning of her conversation with the journalist, adding that “our aim is always to facilitate the exercise of the right to vote. This is what we did when last summer, the first law of the second term of Kyriakos Mitsotakis' government focused on removing all the legal restrictions that existed at the time for Greeks abroad to vote (…) So last summer, we removed the legal restrictions. We were 208 MPs from four parties who made this abolition. But some bad restrictions remained. In other words, even though Greeks now had and could exercise the right to vote from abroad, if they had to take a plane for three hours and pay more than USD 1 000 to go and vote, you understand that this was a strong disincentive. That's exactly why we're coming up with absentee voting, I would say, to remove all the practical barriers to voting as well“.

“The postal vote concerns all Greek citizens registered in the electoral rolls”

“The postal vote, which we are discussing these days in the Greek Parliament, goes and facilitates on the one hand the Greeks abroad and the practical obstacles that existed that I mentioned earlier, but it also facilitates the Greeks living within the territory (…). First of all, the postal vote applies to all Greek citizens registered in the electoral rolls, so potentially the whole world. But the reality is that it will particularly benefit some categories of our fellow citizens such as elderly citizens, citizens with mobility difficulties, people with disabilities, seasonal workers. I would remind you that the European elections will take place on 9th June, which is in the middle of the tourist season. So it is important to facilitate these fellow citizens who may be working in season, as we say, working on our islands and cannot get a permit to go and vote,” she then stressed to the reporter.

“With the absentee ballot measure we are going to exhaust the institutional tools to enhance citizens' participation in the European elections” Kerameos noted in the course of her conversation with the journalist. More specifically, she said, this measure is intended to respond to practical difficulties of the people, of citizens who want to exercise their right to vote, but who for some practical reason find it difficult. So we are talking about elderly people, people with mobility difficulties, people with disabilities, seasonal workers, students in the middle of the examination period, third-grade students in the middle of the national examinations, but also workers on Sunday, such as doctors, for example, who are on call on Sunday and cannot vote.

Then, asked about whether voting can be done from home and what exactly are the steps and the way of voting she says “40 days before the elections, that is until the end of April ,approximately until April 29, all Greek citizens who are registered in the lists will be able to enter the platform of the Ministry of Interior and declare that they want to vote by postal vote. About twenty days before the elections, these envelopes will leave the Ministry of the Interior free of charge to the recipient, any envelope containing the postal vote will be sent out. This envelope must be returned to -there will be polling stations, especially Athens-Thessaloniki-and must be returned to the relevant committees that will receive the postal files no later than 5 p.m. on June 8th, the day before the European elections. So, voters (those who have registered their name on the platform and want to vote by postal vote) will receive the envelopes much earlier, i.e. about 20 days before, but it takes a lot of care to send the envelope in time. The envelope inside will have on the one hand an affidavit saying that I, so-and-so, have the right to vote and so on, which will be checked by the judges' committee to see if it is indeed correct, and at the same time there will be inside the envelope a closed voting envelope with the vote inside (…)”.

On the issue of filling the positions of administrators and deputy administrators in hospitals and what is the start of applications and the closing date states “the law was passed in November and we had promised that before the end of the year will have published the first notice and indeed published the first notice concerning the heads, the administrators of the Health Regions of the country. Some time ago the first notice was also published concerning the administratorsand deputy governors in hospitals. So, applications for the heads, the HHGs starts this week. Applications for hospital administrators starts on January 22. The deadline is Thursday, February 1. (…). I recall that all candidates will be tested in a skills test and only the top 15 in this test will pass to the next phase which will be the marking phase and then only the top 7 will pass to the interview phase. So, we have a more demanding process because we really want to have a process which will lead, if you like, to the right people in the right positions.”

“Civil partnership does not ensure equality for couples”

On the bill on marriage for same-sex couples and the issue of adoption, she says “it is an initiative of the government and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which was announced before the elections and it is an initiative for marriage equality, because that is what it is about. Until this is institutionalised, we have not ensured marriage equality. And I have to tell you that there are various practical difficulties from that. Personally, already in 2017-2018 I was in favour of civil partnership and same-sex fostering.. However, I fully understand the anxiety and possible concerns that colleagues may have. Nevertheless, the civil partnership does not ensure equality between couples, which is what marriage does (…)”.

“New Democracy will emerge stronger from this process”

“I believe that New Democracy will come out of this whole process stronger. I see in the last few days there has been an extensive, deep dialogue on this bill. So I think it's very, very healthy that everyone is expressing themselves for or against, it doesn't matter, but they are expressing themselves and all our MPs have studied, they have sat down, they have read. That is what parliamentarianism is all about. That is what parliamentary democracy is really about. To have all the parliamentarians so actively involved. So, I think that New Democracy comes out of this process stronger. And you can see how methodical and how coordinated this dialogue is and how much increased participation it has. So I think it is a very important step in terms of parliamentarianism in general and in terms of New Democracy in particular“, Kerameos said in the end.

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