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On The Cohabitation Agreement
(Extensive excerpts taken from the text issued by
the Department for the Equality of Women of the CC of KKE,
published in the "Kommounistiki Epitheorisi",
the political-theoretical journal of the CC of KKE, Issue 1, 2016)
On December 22, 2015 the bill “Cohabitation Agreement, exercising of rights, criminal and other provisions” was passed in parliament by the procedure of a roll call vote. In total, 193 MPs voted in favour and 56 against. The parliamentary groups of SYRIZA, PASOK, POTAMI and the Union of Centrists (Enosi Kentron) voted in favour of the law. Differing positions of MPs were observed in NEW DEMOCRACY and the Independent Greeks (ANEL).
This legislative initiative had been widely publicized throughout the previous period both through the electronic and print media and by various homosexual organizations as "a step forward for modern Greece", "with the principle of equality as a starting point and with an eye on Europe '.
THE STANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE OTHER PARTIES AND THE CHURCH
A basis for common ground expressed by all of the parties and MPs who supported the approval of the draft law is on one hand the recognition of the decisions of international courts and international experience and on the other the invocation of 'human rights'.
So, on the one hand, these same parties vote for measures that wreak havoc on social insurance and labour rights while seeking to appear, hypocritically, as defenders of the rights of persons with different sexual behaviour , i.e.; towards same sex partners and the choice of cohabitation. They try to disguise the fact that no one, regardless of sexual orientation, is exempt from the all-sided attack against the workers’ and people’s rights. The vast majority of these people suffer and will continue to suffer the consequences of these policies, like all the rest.
To state just one example, they support the right to pension claims between the two participating parties in the Cohabitation Agreement (CA), while unleashing a new attack on the social security system, which restricts pensions for widows, leading to a further reduction of pensions. They deliberately cover up the fact that universal social rights, such as permanent and stable employment, healthcare for all, irrespective of whether the worker is insured or not, are not met because these rights are sacrificed on the altar of capitalist competition and profits.
The Golden Dawn party not only voted against the law, but also intensified its unacceptable verbal and physical attacks on homosexuals, bearing significant responsibility for their targeting. Their reaction to the legislation stems from a reactionary position that idealizes the family as the core of reproduction for society, in the framework of the well-known ideological line, "country-religion-family”.
The Church from a reactionary position also argued against, in line with the decision of the Greek Holy Synod. The Church considers the family and marriage (It goes without saying that it only recognizes religious marriage) as necessary institutions for the education of children, centred on the teaching of orthodox Christianity. It considers the family as an essential complement to the Church with the goal of children adopting its metaphysical religious worldview. The Church therefore is opposed to the bill from the perspective of raising "good Christians." Directly or indirectly, it recognizes the purpose of a sexual relationship to be procreation.
The assessment of the GHS is characteristic in that "now we are experiencing the profound theological and social deterioration of the family institution [...] alternative family forms are considered aberrations. These aberrations include; political marriage, the single parent family, cohabitation and the so-called homosexual marriage ", considering a “materialistic and nihilistic lifestyle” to be the cause of the crisis in the modern family. The Church proposes "reconsideration" of the family through its connection with the local parish, and is taking practical measures in this direction, establishing Schools for Parents in certain regions. At the same time, it strives for the smooth functioning of the family as a safety valve for the "moral crisis" and by extension, the economic crisis based on an idealistic, metaphysical way of perceiving, thinking and living. These are reactionary views, which in another way support the subordination of workers and the popular masses to capitalist power, to reconcile the lack of social services for children, the elderly, the disabled, promoting an addict-like dependency on charity as a substitute.
THE THEORETICAL BACKGROUND OF THE CONTROVERSY
Since the enactment of Law 3719 in 2008 (establishing the right to cohabitation between heterosexual couples) and especially since 2013, as well as during the discussion of the amendments, there has been a deluge of publications, informational and entertainment programs, a number of "scientific" conferences, not only at universities, putting the heterosexual and same-sex relationship on the same level and cultivating the same level of familiarity. Essentially, the claim is being put forward for legally recognized marriage status and especially recognition of the right -as joint parents- to adoption and Medically Assisted Reproduction.
Within the organized public debate, the argument is presented that «if one of the two homosexuals has the right to adopt and the child grows up with them, why not acknowledge joint adoption?" They present cases such as the signing of a cohabitation agreement between three women in Brazil, who are now pursuing In Vitro Fertilization. They publish statistics about attacks on homosexuals by organized groups, pointing to Golden Dawn. The wealth of background material that has been amassed is demonstrated by the publication of economic studies in the US concerning the same-sex family, e.g., that in the first year of enactment of marriage between same-sex couples in the US $ 259,000,000 in profit was grossed, proving that the god of capitalist society is profit. Also, the entire issue of inheritance was brought into the public eye by show-business figures with large fortunes.
The institutional recognition of homosexual cohabitation is pursued in the name of human rights, with a focus on ensuring individual rights, including sexual. The legal recognition of cohabitation by individuals with homosexual orientation is viewed as safeguarding minority rights. It is an aspect of the bourgeois concept of individual rights, pluralism, and the right to diversity, to self-determination of the body. It is expressed slogan "I am free to experiment and then choose my sexual identity."
Homosexual orientation or alternating between homosexual and heterosexual orientation is presented by sections of intellectuals and artists, especially to the youth as an unconventional, dissident, and radical form of behaviour, as a "way" to overcome outdated perceptions of women's position in society, about sexuality, as a "form of conflict with authority, based on the male-dominated society." It projects the concept that "sexual identity is something fluid", socially and linguistically constructed. This is the philosophical current of postmodernism and postmodernity that ultimately denies the objectivity of biological sex which is the basis for a predominantly heterosexual sexual orientation. It argues that "gender is not what we are, but what we do."
It ignores or conceals the class factors that led to the different positions of the two sexes and the ruling classes in the evolution of society, from the primitive community household in the first class society onwards. In the passage from one socioeconomic formation to another, surplus products appear, produced to meet community needs. Some products were produced in excess due to the development of the means of production and work implements, the cultivation of land, herds, which came under the ownership of men who appropriated the surplus, the surplus product. The owner of the surplus began to distance himself from the need to work for survival, exploiting the work of prisoners of war, slaves. The woman could not overcome the inherent biological differences she had with her husband that render her more vulnerable in nature. To protect the need for the reproduction of the species, she could not stray far from the community household that lost its social character with the onset of the first class division of society, with the exploitation of man by man. Moreover, the need for wealth to be inherited by the "legitimate" offspring of the man was established. In this way, the domination of the man over the woman was institutionalized at both an individual and social level.
By bypassing the social causes which imposed overwhelmingly different social behaviours between the sexes, these theories lead to the denial of the biological differences between men and women, ultimately denying the objectivity of biological gender identity.
On this basis, the idea that every person belongs, in a natural and inevitable way to one gender is considered to be an error. These theories render absolute the very real impact society has on a series of perceptions about gender (which often act in the direction of legitimizing inequality and discrimination against women).
It should however be noted that these perceptions are promoted as official teaching at some university departments, while various agencies are pursuing the expansion of their teaching to primary and secondary school education ( which is already being discussed in educational bodies).
It is worth recalling that this theoretical-ideological approach is being institutionalized in a range of countries and through specific political practices. Germany has recognized since 2013 the "third" - unspecified sex, while France recognizes since October 2015 the "neutral gender." The Whitney Museum of American Art in the US created toilets "for all genders." In a private kindergarten in Stockholm, Sweden they avoid any reference to the terms female and male, so as not to distinguish children according to their gender. A similar debate has begun in Greece (at the initiative even of the Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation (OLME) and the Ministry of Education with workshops entitled "Against Transphobia and Homophobia in Education."
Before presenting the position of the KKE, we should mention that holders of such views exploit attitudes on these issues as a criterion for classifying political forces as supposedly conservative or progressive. This use of a false division between "conservatism" and "progress”, which at many points in history has been exploited for the benefit of the power of capital, has become an international trend. For example, in France a false opposition between “progressive” President Hollande and his “conservative” opponents[i] was projected around the same issue. In a similar vein, a sharp contrast between Obama as an alleged defender of human rights and Putin as a denier of the individual rights of homosexuals is widely projected.
In Greece, some proponents of these views characterize the KKE as conservative because it exposes their unscientific and reactionary content. The adoption of these views provides an opportunity for various political forces to whitewash their ideological support for the anti-people policies they impose in the pursuit of capitalist profit. A characteristic example of the false character of their line is the fact that both the parties that were in favour and those that were in opposition to the law’s enactment, hand in hand with the Church – are ardent defenders of capitalist society. The choice to support capitalism (and by extension the anti-people necessities of each phase) is a conservative political stance. It contributes to the preservation of the existing social order based on the exploitation of man by man.
The KKE battles under all conditions to mobilize and prepare the forces to overthrow exploitative society. It battles for the political mobilization of all forces that experience capitalist exploitation and not on the basis of one or the other specific characteristic. It fights against the attempt of the powers of capital, utilizing the specific characteristics individuals may have, to divide the working class and the popular forces by emphasizing and pointing out their common class enemy. The dividing line in society is an objective one defined by the contradiction between the bourgeoisie on the one hand and the working class and the poor popular strata on the other. In this struggle, namely the ‘class struggle’, the Communist Party is on one side, while all other parties (both those who were in favour and those who were against the amendments to the CA and of course the Church) are on the other.
POSITION OF THE KKE AS REGARDS THE AMENDMENST TO THE COHABITATION AGREEMENT BILL
The Communist Party from 2008 onwards had expressed reservations and concerns about the fact that the enactment of the CA for heterosexual couples was in essence a first step towards the enactment - through its expansion - of a corresponding agreement for same-sex couples. For this reason, KKE had voted "present." In any case, if Greece had not enacted a CA for heterosexual couples, it would not have been accused of discrimination. There is the possibility, however, of Greece being accused of discrimination with the same logic because it makes no legal provision for marriage between same-sex couples with the respective rights and obligations arising from it (adoption etc.).
Taking into account the handling of the issue and the escalation that followed, KKE further elaborated its position. The methodological basis of its approach is the analysis and interpretation of the family institution as a historical - social phenomenon.
The family, like all social phenomena, undergoes change within the framework of the evolutionary course of humanity. As a social phenomenon, the family did not have the same economic and social functions throughout the history of mankind. These varied according to the historical level of development of the productive forces, which determined the specific socio-economic formation. For example, in the primitive community household the reproduction of the species and reproduction of labour power took place, along with the production process of the social product and its equal distribution to all members of the community. Over the course of time, it was gradually replaced by the individual household which lost its character as a social work unit, merely retaining its role in the reproduction of the species.
In the various exploitative societies, from slavery to capitalism, the codification of family relationships was not associated with rights concerning sexual relations. In fact, everything that was legislated enshrined the right of a man to know who his children are, who his heirs are. The sexual freedom of men as opposed to that of women stems from this fact. Remnants of this were evident in the prosecutions for adultery that took place in the 20th century, even following World War II, in Greece and other countries.
In other words, the ceremonial or legal rights in a marriage were not determined on the basis of sexual relations or sexual orientation, but on the basis of social rights related to the reproduction of the species, the obligations and rights of parents towards their children, either as the future workforce or as members of the bourgeoisie.
In this sense, each different type of society assigns different obligations and rights to both parents towards their children and towards each other. The method of regulating this social relationship and the perceptions that accompany it are posited within a domain characterized by the dominance of specific economic relations.
Modern marriage is the legal expression of this social relationship, the family, mainly as it was developed within capitalist society. It includes parental responsibility as a central element, namely the rights and duties of parents towards children. Obligations between spouses and inheritance rights flow from this basis. In other words, what is legally regulated is not generally the specific choice of cohabitation of each person, but a cohabitation which can potentially lead to procreation, contributing to the reproduction of the species. In this sense social rights stem from the prospect of parenthood rather than as the result of a personal-choice-based cohabitation of any other type; friendly, sexual, economic, employment or whatever. It is understood that this fact is not negated when, for example a couple does not produce a child– for whatever reason.
On this basis, the KKE considers that the only expression of the modern family should be mandatory marriage -fully separated from religion. Apart from a compulsory civil marriage, each couple should have the choice to commit to a corresponding religious commitment and ceremony.
Based on the above, we assess that the institution of civil marriage requires modernization in the direction of simplification, e.g. the annulment process (through specific amendments to the Civil Code for civil marriage), rather than through the institutionalization of new forms of marriage. There have already been some amendments to Civil Law which equated obligations between the spouses, that is what had been provided for in the legislation up to now were the husband's obligations to his wife. Now the wife also has obligations towards her husband: in terms of social insurance – pension, inheritance and taxes, labour rights, child support/alimony etc. In every case, recent legislative amendments essentially convert the CA of heterosexual couples into an institution almost identical to that of marriage, removing any differences between both institutions under the 2008 law.
Of course, the fact that the core of the contract of marriage is the regulation of the economic relations of family members (and could not be otherwise under capitalism), objectively elevates economic criteria as the major factor affecting the desire of a couple to marry or dissolve a marriage as a form of legal cohabitation. For example, there are couples who remain in a relationship that does not satisfy them mentally, emotionally, sexually for economic reasons. Even if they decide to divorce they must follow the legal process (which may require court procedures) to sort out the children's custody, child support/alimony, to divide up joint property. This is also extended to cases of domestic violence, which have a serious impact on the normal development of children. According to data published by the Research Centre for Gender Equality, 7 in 10 women who sought help at centres for abused women were unemployed mothers. Economic conditions, together with the lack of social services and support frameworks, oblige them to stay in violent marital relationships. Conversely, there are couples who pursue a ‘virtual divorce’ in order to qualify for the law relating to indebted households.
The KKE struggles for a series of social rights for the working class and the people (labour rights, social security, pension, medical care) without sowing divisions according to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion. We believe that the demands of the labour and popular movement cover some of the problems faced by same-sex couples, for example, taxation issues, and social benefits for children regardless of marital status, pensions for all over 60 years of age.
Other issues, e.g. inheritance, can be arranged through private agreements, notary acts. Just as the right for someone to be notified of matters relating to the health of another can be handled in a private way, with private agreements, and the necessary amendments to the Civil Code so that if for example, someone does not want their relatives to be privy to such information, they can designate another person to handle these matters.
With the development of capitalist society and mainly the future abolition and formation of a socialist-communist society, new relationships will necessarily be formed between the sexes wishing to engage in procreation. In any case, social revolution begins with the victory of the socialist political revolution, the conquest of workers’ power and involves a radical change in the course of all social relations, including relations between the sexes and between parents and children. Society will regulate these relations on a new economic and social base and, especially in the immature communist, socialist society, the workers' state and will provide the corresponding legal expression for these relations.
The historical experience of socialist construction in the 20th century proved that the first workers' state, formed in Soviet Russia, abolished all the old laws which maintained and reinforced the inequality of the sexes that enslaves the woman to the man in the family and accomplished great strides in economic and social life, but also in terms of legislation in order to establish this revolutionary feat. For example, one of the first decrees of the socialist state was freedom for both spouses to divorce. [ii] The importance of these leaps is revealed even more when one takes into account the social reality (pre-capitalist backwardness in institutions, attitudes, etc.) that the new power inherited from Tsarist Russia.
As Lenin noted, "It is a far cry from equality in law to equality in life ". The main task that socialist power has, together with the legal regulations that come at this stage, not as the climax of the process but as a first step, is reformation of society as a whole, giving new content to the relations between the sexes, their emotional bonds, the choice to create a family and children.
The new values and beliefs are gradually crystallized to the extent that communist relations are established. On this basis, viewpoints on gender relations, on relationships between people are revolutionized just as all the emotions and ideas of people are. New rules are established governing the obligations of the individual to society, leading to the revolutionizing of relationships within the family as well. But the struggle of the new against the old is a slow and tortuous process, as the deepening of the new relations of production and distribution affect consciousness and long-standing beliefs and practices with some delays.
This process creates the basis for a comprehensive reformation of family and family relationships, the relationship between the individual and society, society and the individual, for the true regeneration of relations between the sexes and the emotional and family ties that develop. Once all the economic factors that play such a determinative role under capitalism in the creation of a family are no longer a hindrance, the way is open for the development of free mutual relations between husband and wife. The issue of cohabitation for a couple becomes an exclusively private matter, based on the physical, intellectual, emotional and any other form of attraction. Cohabitation is not affected by other factors and so it lasts for as long as this attraction lasts. The only motive is mutual love.
A key element in the regulation of these relations on a new basis is the equal position of women, their protection based on the particular needs arising from their role in the reproductive process, the liberation from the slavery of the individual household, ensuring free time for her equal participation in the organization and administration of social production. This is what is truly radical and progressive and not what is expressed today by those who defend the capitalist system, which not only reproduces social inequality, but also inequality between the two sexes.
The objection of the KKE regarding the amending of the CA and especially its extension to same-sex couples stems from the nature and evolution of the family institution, its role in the reproduction of the species. A starting point of our position is the need for the comprehensive social protection of children and to ensure as far as possible –in a capitalist society- the most favourable conditions for their physical, intellectual and emotional development. In forming our position we take into account the entire process that began in 2008 with the enactment of the CA for unmarried heterosexual couples which will clearly have a direct continuation (apart from the enactment of this bill) towards the adoption of children by same-sex couples. Based on these criteria, we reiterate that we do not agree with the extension of the family institution to same-sex couples, much more so in terms of the institutional recognition of the possibility of adoption or utilization of Medically Assisted Reproduction.
The biological origin of humankind is the result of a male-female sexual relationship, which as such, is of interest to and is regulated by society. Objectively a child that is raised by a same-sex couple, from the first determinative years of its life, acquires a distorted perception of the biological relationship between the sexes. A correct perception of this relationship is an essential ingredient for its smooth psychosomatic and social development.
This conclusion is not undermined by the fact that in heterosexual marriage reactionary elements may well exist, such as domestic violence and other products of exploitative society that may generate negative child-rearing conditions. On this basis, in any case, unequal gender relations were produced along with the oppressive behaviour of men towards woman, as well as many other things. It is a given that chronic social problems and types of behaviour have their root in the class division of society (and all that this entails in terms of social relations and perceptions). This danger is not avoided even in the case of parenting by same-sex couples. On the contrary, in this instance those risks are reinforced by the distorted perception of the biological relationship, without meaning that the child of a same-sex couple will certainly develop a homosexual sexual orientation. The development of the mental functions in a child during the indirect process of assimilating the values prevailing in a particular historical period is through the child's direct social contacts with adults. In continuation, these are assimilated into its consciousness. Therefore the whole family, the extended family, friends, the school, and the social environment all have an impact.
In any case, the very same confusion concerning the relationship between the sexes is directly linked –without being completely determined by this- to problems in the relations of heterosexual couples and the transitional nature of these that exists more than ever before. Each option which is presented as an individual one, including sexual orientation cannot be cut off from the social conditions in which it is adopted. No orientation, for example, can avoid being affected by socially defined phenomena such as reactionary conceptions of women, domestic violence, negative experiences of children raised by heterosexual couples etc. These problems do not only create confusion in terms of relationships between people of the same sex, but also create negative situations and behaviours in the relationships between people of different sexes.
From the abovementioned, it follows that the same phenomenon has a very different character in the different stages of social evolution. In no instance, for example, can the homosexuality or bisexuality in the present conditions under the domination of capitalism be compared to the same phenomenon in ancient Greece or in other regions and periods (which cannot be presented in the context of this article, although well known). This does not mean that there are no specific common aspects between them, but that these common aspects are not the determining factor as regards the extent and characteristics of the phenomenon in different periods.
The unscientific approach regarding this social phenomenon is not limited to an ahistorical comparison of the relations between people of different or the same sex at different points during the evolution of mankind, but extends to the identification of animal behaviour with that of humans, which is attempted through the projection of 'homosexual' phenomena occasionally observed in sexual relations in the animal kingdom.
In summary, the KKE considers that sexual orientation is a private matter, like cohabitation. Sexual orientation, sexual relationships or sexual satisfaction does not produce social rights. The institutionalization of the cohabitation agreement for same-sex couples is essentially an extension of the family institution to these couples. Experience from other countries shows that when a cohabitation agreement or gay marriage was legislated, it paved the way for the adoption of children.
It is important to note that the KKE condemns and is absolutely opposed to any behaviour or practice that is targets people on the basis of their sexual orientation. It considers attacks unacceptable, but also any other related abuse. For this reason, in Parliament it voted in favour of an amendment that makes provisions for the severe punishment for any such behaviour.
The reason that the KKE exists in Greek society is to rally the oppressed – regardless of any existent differences between them in any area of private and social life – in a course of conflict with capital and its power in order to overthrow capitalist society and to build a classless communist society.
[i] In a period of intensification of the anti-people attack by the Hollande government, half a million people participated in these protests supporting one or the other pole of the controversy.
[ii] In the context of a society based on the free development of bonds between men and women, the freedom to dissolve a marriage does not mean "dissolution" of ties between the former spouses-parents and children, but places them in another context. In the USSR there were certain regulations for the commencement but also for the dissolution of marriage. The young couple applied for a civil marriage and 6 months later, both parties signed and the corresponding wedding ceremony took place. They considered that this 6-month extension helped the young couple to adjust to the idea of joint cohabitation. Those marriages that took place with a religious ceremony after the socialist revolution were not recognized by the state because the Church and state were separate. Similarly, for a divorce to take place, 6 months had to pass following application at the local registry, so the couple had time to examine whether there were possibilities to remain in a joint partnership, with the assistance of an advisory service which was available for both spouses. After the divorce, both parents were responsible for the education of the child. A form of child support was established to be provided to the parent (usually the woman), who had basic custody of the children.