by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Greek parliament approved a bill on Wednesday which opens the way for same sex couples to foster children, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
A total of 161 deputies voted in favor and 103 against the bill.
The bill concerns couples which have signed civil partnership agreements, including same-sex couples, was supported by most MPs of the Left-led two-partite ruling coalition, as well as many opposition parties' deputies.
The bill foresees the simplification of the adoption procedures which have been criticized as bureaucratic.
The government stressed, however, that when it comes to adoption, only married couples can adopt.
Addressing the parliament shortly before the vote on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the new law gives children the opportunity to live a normal life and grow up out of shelters.
"Fostering provides for the return of the child to its natural parents, who must retain contact with the child during its fostering time. It would not be an exaggeration to say that fostering is an act of altruism, solidarity, and service of those who choose it," the Greek premier said.
In recent years, Greece has approved several bills aimed at ending discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Civil unions between same sex couples in Greece were legalized three years ago.