Former prime minister Antonis Samaras used a caustic remark in response to suggestions that ruling New Democracy (ND) party deputies and ministers who disagree with a controversial draft bill legalizing same-sex marriage abstain from an upcoming vote, rhetorically asking if “We’re telling Greek citizens to not abstain from casting their ballot in elections, yet we tell ministers and MPs to not vote in Parliament?”

Arriving at a local Bar Association event in his hometown of Kalamata, in the extreme southwest Peloponnese, when asked about the contentious issue he stated that society has a clear stance on the issue, saying he would express his views when the time comes in Parliament.

“The overwhelming majority of society has a crystallized opinion on this matter, and I will express my position when the time comes in Parliament,” the former premier and ND president said.

On Wednesday, Greek lawmakers convened a debate over the draft bill. PM Mitsotakis made it clear during an interview on Greek TV on Monday that he would follow through with his plan to pass the law despite high-profile party Ministers and MPs expressing their open dissent, with ex-PM Samaras being among the most vociferous in his opposition.

According to surveys, the issue has also divided Greek public opinion, with a slight majority opposing same-sex marriage and even a higher portion disagreeing with the adoption of children by same-sex couples or surrogacy.