queer reproduction: 

Making Kin in Greece

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well! It’s been quite some time since our latest blog article on Women Loving Women since we have been swamped preparing a brand-new swimwear collection for Ecce Homo’s friends and customers. All we can reveal for the moment is the name of the collection, FluidX, and yes, you’ve guessed right, the inspiration behind it is the fluidity of gender and sexuality beyond any binaries and identities. But enough with FluidX, you are going to explore what we have in store for you in the following weeks, so all you have to do is keep visiting our e-shop and social media for the latest updates on the collection and on our generous summer sales! 

Back to the matter at hand, today we are going to delve into the issue of the reproductive rights of LGBTIQA+ persons and their accessibility to New Reproductive Technologies (NRTs from now on). In this blog post, the first one of a series dedicated to queer reproductive justice, we are to focus on the case of Greece because of the recent legislative reform regarding same-sex marriage on the occasion of which a heated debate monopolized the mostly queerphobic discussions at the Greek Parliament as to whether queers should be able to become parents by way of resorting to NRTs. We have touched upon the issue of rainbow families in a previous blog article where we wrote extensively about a series of over-rehearsed arguments uttered by Greek politicians against the legal recognition of same-sex families and the half-solution the current law offers to their very real problems. On the bright side, as of today, some queer persons have the right to sign a registered partnership and cohabitation agreement or legally marry a partner of the same sex, while joint adoption is an option for those who want to start a family or legally recognize the one they already have.

However, this law didn’t introduce any changes regarding the legal framework of NRTs that has been in place in Greece for over two decades now, and. as such, this ‘historic’ law -despite being a big step towards the right direction- constitutes a missed opportunity for the queer citizens as their access to NRTs is fairly limited. As we speak, only single women can access medically assisted insemination, while this right has been denied to legally married same-sex couples of both genders and single men. More specifically, a couple of women cannot use medically assisted insemination as a couple to have kids, while a couple of men cannot resort to surrogacy to become dads. Needless to say, this legal framework is quite contradictory at many points, and soon new legislative interventions will be needed both to clear things up and to align the quaint NRTs law with the legal approach of the European Union on these matters. 

On the other hand, the exclusion of the vast majority of queer persons and couples from accessing NRTs becomes even starker if one takes into consideration the more recent reforms of these laws that point towards the direction of becoming more inclusive. For example, people living with HIV can now become parents with the help of medically assisted technologies. Another telling instance is the one that regards the terms and conditions of the cryopreservation of eggs. Lately, it has become possible for women up to the age of 54 to cryopreserve their ova, while their reasons might be social and not only medical as it was the case up until recently. In addition, a woman does not need anymore the consent of her husband or partner in order to proceed to cryopreservation or to fertilize her cryopreserved during the marriage or partnership eggs even in the case of a divorce. But before going any further, let’s take a look at the larger picture for a second. What are we talking about when we talk about NRTs? What is the current legal landscape regarding the access of queer persons to NRTs in Europe?

New Reproductive Technologies or Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs from now on) include all those technological and medical interventions in the biological process of procreation among which are the conceptive technologies, that is medical procedures used primarily to address low fertility or infertility. Some ARTs or fertility treatments are Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Frozen embryo transfer (FET), Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), cryopreservation of gametes or embryos, surrogacy, reproductive surgery, and the use of fertility medication. Perhaps the most paradigmatic, well-known, and commonly used type of ART is the In vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF). IVF is a medical procedure that allows for the fertilization to happen outside the woman’s body. Sperm and eggs are combined in a special dish to make embryos (fertilized eggs). After embryos are formed, the embryos are placed in the fallopian tube and when this is impossible, the embryos are injected into the uterus. Also, IVF is less costly and less invasive than other fertility treatments since it does not require general anesthesia or laparoscopy. 

With the help of ARTs, persons or couples who cannot have kids are able to become parents bypassing biology’s limitations. Since the birth of Louisa Brown, the world’s first test tube baby in 1978 in the UK to be conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), ARTs have raised a host of debates around the world regarding their bioethical and biolegal implications. ARTs have given hope to millions of people who dreamt of becoming parents, while, at the same time, a trillion-dollar biomarket has been formed around these biotechnologies reinforcing the commodification of women’s body and human biomatter in general. Most importantly, as ARTs become more available, they change our cultural understanding of reproduction, kinship, and family and put into question a series of our most cherished binaries, such as nature-culture and biological-technological. Extending the human reproductive capabilities beyond sexual reproduction, the NRTs have redefined what it means to be human today and have created many possibilities for making kin beyond the traditional nuclear family arrangement.

 

When it comes to the current legal landscape regarding the access of queer persons and couples to NRTs in Europe, according to the 2024 edition of the Rainbow Map by ILGA - The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association that illustrates the latest situation of laws and policies that protect the human rights of LGBTIA+ people in Europe, the following statistical data seem to put Greece in an awkward position: 

  • In 17 countries, couples (regardless of the partners’ sexual orientation and/or gender identity) can get fertility treatment for medically assisted insemination. 

  • In 26 countries, single people (regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity) can get fertility treatment for medically assisted insemination. 

  • Medically assisted insemination is available for couples in 17 countries and 26 countries for single people.   

Stay tuned for our next blog article on Queer Reproductive Technologies!




 
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