Claims that the image of a mother was removed from Greek milk cartons fuel anti-LGBT sentiment - Featured image

Claims that the image of a mother was removed from Greek milk cartons fuel anti-LGBT sentiment

The legalisation of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples in Greece, which was approved by parliament on February 15, 2024, sparked a heated debate in Greek society and drew strident criticism from the Orthodox Church and others. In late January some social media users shared a photo showing a milk carton from the dairy company DELTA showing a man and a child. The users claimed that the company had “removed the mother figure” from the design, insinuating that it was to prepare the public for same-sex couples becoming parents. However, the particular carton displayed in the post is only one out of five that DELTA introduced in January 2024 and the others do feature a female figure. The company told AFP that the idea behind the new cartons was to depict “different moments of the day with a Greek family” and that the designs had been prepared months before the government proposed the legislation on same-sex marriage and adoption.

In January 2024, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a bill aimed at legalising marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. On February 15, Greece’s parliament adopted the landmark reform, making the country the 37th in the world – and the first Orthodox Christian one – to legalise adoption by same-sex families. This is a significant step for the country, as previously, the state did not recognize parental rights for non-biological parents (archived link here).

Some socially conservative politicians and representatives of the Orthodox Church expressed strong opposition to the legislation and AFP previously fact-checked other misinformation surrounding the vote.

In this context, a photo began circulating on the Internet in late January with the claim that the Greek dairy company DELTA had removed the image of a mother from its milk cartons, implying that DELTA wanted to promote alternative family models. The photo shows two DELTA milk cartons: one portraying what appears to be a family with a mother, father and two children, labelled “previous carton” in red letters, while another depicts a man and a girl (presumably father and daughter) and is labelled “new package” in red letters.

“NO gentlemen of ‘DELTA’…When you remove the MOTHER from the carton of ‘FAMILY’ milk…I, quite simply, keep the MOTHER and REMOVE YOU FROM MY FAMILY!”, reads a January 31, 2024 post on Facebook with the photo, shared around 1,900 times.

Users in the comments expressed disgust at the packaging, and some said they would no longer buy DELTA products: “Boycott everything they ‘serve’ us by force. We are Greeks and family is above everything!”, one user wrote.

The photo was also shared here while posts with similar claims were shared on Facebook here and here, on X (here, here and here) and Instagram (here and here). The same claim was also repeated on some Greek websites (here and here).

The image was also shared on X by far-right politician Kyriakos Velopoulos, president of the Hellenic Solution party. Hellenic Solution has 12 MPs and was categorically opposed to the government’s bill. In the past, AFP has verified other false claims spread or supported by Velopoulos (here and here).

However, AFP’s investigation found that the claim is misleading because it only refers to one of DELTA’s new cartons, whereas there are four others in the same series, which do include what looks like a mother figure. Moreover, the company told AFP it had begun the redesign of the packaging months before the public debate on same-sex marriage and adoption was sparked by the government’s plans.

Screenshot of the misleading claim on Facebook. Image captured: 12/02/2024.

Cartons show ‘different moments of a Greek family’

A Google search with the keywords “milk” and “DELTA” led us to the official site of the brand (archived here), where we confirmed that the new DELTA milk carton shown in the social media posts does indeed exist and it is one of the five featured in the milk range “mmmMILK”.

The new milk cartons were released in January 2024, a spokesperson from DELTA told AFP in an email on February 12.

The designs on the other four packages in the new range depict different family members and each appears to include a mother figure: they comprise a heterosexual couple, a heterosexual couple with two children (twice), and a heterosexual couple with one child.

“The new mmmMILK packaging includes photos depicting different moments of a Greek family during the day. You can see them in the relevant photo as well as on DELTA’s official website ( in our products section,” (archived here) the spokesperson told AFP.

However, the process “from the moment of redesigning the packaging to the moment it is available for sale, takes a long time, four to five months, so it cannot be related to… current issues,” the DELTA spokesperson said, alluding to the recent controversy over same-sex marriage and adoption.

The company also sent us a photo of the entire new range of packaging, showing that the mother figure has not been removed from the design on the other cartons.

The photo sent to AFP by DELTA on 12/02/2024, showing the entire “mmmMILK” range

We found most of the new designs in supermarkets in Athens. The photos below were taken in supermarkets from three different chains around the city.

Image of DELTA’s ‘mmmMILK’ range taken in a supermarket in Athens, on Saturday 10/02/24. Red squares added by AFP. – Magdalini GKOGKOU / AFP
Image of DELTA’s ‘mmmMILK’ range taken in a supermarket in Athens, on Friday 09/02/24. Red squares added by AFP – Magdalini GKOGKOU / AFP

Debate over same-sex marriage and adoption

As AFP previously reported, the Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, said the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption “condemns future children to grow up without a father or mother in an environment of confusion” and will encourage “the exploitation of vulnerable women” as surrogate mothers (archived link here).

On February 11, 2024, some 4,000 people responded to a call by Orthodox religious groups to protest against the government’s bill (archived link here), according to the police.

Protesters against a reform legalising same-sex marriage and adoption in Athens on February 11, 2024. – ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

Two large nationwide surveys (archived here) conducted in 2023 by the aboutpeople polling firm (archived here) on behalf of the Eteron-Institute for Research and Social Change (archived here) revealed significant support among respondents for same-sex marriage, but also clear opposition to adoption by same-sex couples.

After Greece’s parliament approved the bill, dozens of people waving rainbow flags celebrated in front of the parliament building in central Athens. LGBTQ associations praised the vote as a historic milestone. The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wrote on X that “this is a milestone for human rights, reflecting today’s Greece – a progressive and democratic country, passionately committed to European values”.

Supporters of the LGBTQ community wrapped in pride flags gather outside the Greek Parliament as lawmakers vote on legalising marriage and adoption for same-sex couples on February 15, 2024 in Athens. – ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

AFP has previously verified false or misleading claims about the LGBTQ community (here and here).

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Fact Check, Politics, Society

Author(s): Magdalini GKOGKOU / AFP Greece

Originally published here.