Recognition of same-sex unions in Greece
|Legal status of
*Not yet in effect
Same-sex unions are not currently recognized by law in Greece. In 2008 Greece passed a law which regulated cohabitation but this law barred same-sex couple from enjoying some rights if they were cohabitants. On November 7, 2013, the ECtHR ruled that is discriminatory excluding same-sex couples from the benefits afforded by this law.
The former government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis (which governed until October 2009) was opposed to same-sex marriage. The New Democracy-led government had proposed legislation that offers several rights to unmarried couples, but only applies to opposite-sex couples. If introduced, the law was expected to be declared unconstitutional or against EU principles if brought to Greek or European Courts.
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), under George Andreas Papandreou presented in April 2006, a legislative proposal for the recognition of unmarried couples, homosexual and heterosexual, following the French example of the Civil solidarity pact. However, according to some LGBT groups, the proposal's controversial terminology made little headway on LGBT rights and PASOK's proposed 'partnership' banned same-sex couples from adopting. In November 2008, PASOK once again submitted a draft law on civil partnership, even though it made no progress in the legislature.
The left party Synaspismos has committed itself to support same-sex marriage according to media reports in Athens. Alekos Alavanos, the leader of Synaspismos said that the coalition backs the fight against all kinds of discrimination and supports the free expression of sexual orientation including the legalization of same-sex marriages.
Gay rights group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples, pointing out a loophole in the 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between "persons", without reference to gender.
Responding to government proposals in 2008 to introduce legal rights for cohabiting couples, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the most respected-bishop of the Church of Greece, suggested that "There is a need to change with the time". It is unclear, however, whether this view applied to same-sex couples, particularly as the Church has previously opposed gay rights in general and civil union laws in particular.
Before the legislative elections of 2009, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) announced its support for same-sex registered partnerships in a reply to a questionnaire sent by gay rights group OLKE. PASOK ended up winning the election.
On September 17, 2010 the minister of Justice Haris Kastanidis announced that a special committee had been formed to prepare a registered partnership law that would include both same-sex and different-sex couples. The committee was constituted on 29 July 2010 and, according to its members, its work is to make proposals regarding the modernization of Family Law. Until the end of 2010, matters regarding heterosexual couples would be discussed, while those regarding same-sex couples would be discussed after January 2011.
On February 8, 2011 the European Court of Human Rights decided to merge and accept two cases of four couples regarding the breach of article 8 (respect of private and family life) combined with article 14 (freedom from discrimination) and article 13 (effective remedy). The cases were brought to the ECtHR as a result of the Greek state introducing registered partnership legislation that specifically and expressly excluded same-sex couples. The ECtHR gave Greece until May 31, 2011 to submit its observations, a deadline which will probably be extended for a few months.
On 19 August 2011, a government official announced that the government aims to introduce legislation allowing the registration of same-sex relationships soon.
On 7 November 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in Vallianatos and Others v. Greece that excluding same-sex couples from registered partnerships is discriminatory. On 12 November, PASOK announced its intention to introduce a bill extending the registered partnership law to same-sex couples, something that eventually never happened.
In November 2014, it was announced that many major changes to Greece's Family Code would be considered, the most prominent being the extension of civil partnerships to gay couples. It was also reported that the Ministry of Justice is not considering same-sex marriage.
First same-sex marriages
On 3 June 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two same-sex couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing a legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which in the past had also opposed the introduction of heterosexual civil marriage, the original intent of the 1982 law. Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis declared the Tilos marriages "invalid" and Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas warned Mayor Aliferis of the legal repercussions of his "breach of duty", but he said he had "no intention of annulling the marriages". The government filed a court motion to annul the two same-sex marriages, stirring demonstrations and protests among the LGBT community.
On 5 May 2009, a court ruled the marriages were invalid, but the couples intended to appeal the ruling, up to the ECHR if necessary. The hearing of the case in the court of appeals was held on January 14, 2011 and the decision came out on April 14, 2011. It also ruled that the two marriages are non existent. After proceeding in every judicial body of Greece without success, the case has now proceeded to the European Court of Human Rights and awaits for a decision.
- Greek gays demonstrate for marriage, 365gay.com, 28 September 2008
- (Greek) Η ΠΡΟΤΑΣΗ ΝΟΜΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΣΟΚ ΓΙΑ ΤΟ ΣΥΜΦΩΝΟ ΣΥΜΒΙΩΣΗΣ
- Greek gays find loophole in marriage law, Pink News, 13 March 2008
- Greeks consider recognising same-sex couples
- New gay friendly government after elections?
- (Greek) «Δεν αρκεί το σύμφωνο ελεύθερης συμβίωσης»
- (Greek) Σύμφωνο Συμβίωσης για ομόφυλα ζευγάρια προωθεί η κυβέρνηση
- (Greek) Ερχεται το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
- Tugwell, Paul (22 August 2011). "Greece Bias Against Gays-Lesbians Compounds Debt Crisis as Tourism Suffers". Bloomberg.
- (Greek) Διάλογος για την επέκταση του συμφώνου συμβίωσης σε ομόφυλα ζευγάρια
- (Greek) Ρουπακιώτης: Διάλογος για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης για ομοφυλόφιλους
- "ECHR: "Exclusion of same-sex couples from civil unions is illegal"". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- (Greek) Ανάληψη πρωτοβουλίας του ΠΑΣΟΚ για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
- (Greek) Τροπολογία για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης από το ΠΑΣΟΚ
- Same-Sex Civil Partnership Agreements in Greece
- (German) Erste gleichgeschlechtliche Ehen auf griechischer Insel
- AFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battle
- "Greece sees first gay 'marriage'". BBC News. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "Same-sex marriages annulled as illegal in Greece". London: Guardian. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 15 September 2009.