Recognition of same-sex unions in Greece
Greece recognizes same-sex unions by allowing same-sex couples to enter into cohabitation agreements since 24 December 2015. A bill allowing such unions was approved by the Hellenic Parliament on 23 December 2015 and published in the government gazette the following day.
Introduction of partnerships for opposite-sex couples
The 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 Papandreou, then in opposition, 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.
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.
The Law no. 3719/2008 ("Reforms concerning the family, children and society"), which entered into force on 26 November 2008, established a form of partnership known as "civil unions" (σύμφωνο συμβίωσης), only available to opposite-sex couples.
Extension of partnerships to same-sex couples
Before the legislative elections of 4 October 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 17 September 2010, 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 8 February 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 ECHR as a result of the Greek state introducing cohabitation agreement legislation that specifically and expressly excluded same-sex couples. The ECHR gave Greece until 31 May 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 cohabitation agreements is discriminatory. On 12 November, PASOK announced its intention to introduce a bill extending the cohabitation agreement law to same-sex couples, something that eventually never happened.
In November 2014, it was announced that many major changes to Greece's Family Law would be considered, the most prominent being the extension of cohabitation agreements to same-sex couples. It was also reported that the Ministry of Justice is not considering same-sex marriage.
On 24 April 2015, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice announced the government's intention to bring a bill before Parliament within two months. Shortly after a committee was formed to study the issue until 15 June 2015. The bill was published on 10 June 2015.
On 9 November 2015, a new draft of the cohabitation agreement bill granting some rights of marriage was published. The bill was sent for public consultation which lasted until 20 November. Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos announced that same-sex adoption will be studied in the future. The bill was submitted to parliament on 9 December, and approved on 23 December 2015, with 194 voting yes, 55 no and 51 absent. The law was signed by the President of Greece and published in the government gazette on 24 December 2015. The Law no. 4356/2015, which amended Law no. 3719/2008, took effect upon publication.
Gay rights group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry same-sex couples, pointing out a loophole in the 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between "persons", without reference to gender.
First marriages in Tilos
On 3 June 2008, 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, the court of first instance of Rodos 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 appeal of Dodekanisos was held on 14 January 2011 and the decision came out on 14 April 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.
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- (Greek) Ερχεται το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
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- (Greek) Ενσωμάτωση της Οδηγίας 2000/43/ΕΚ περί εφαρμογής της αρχής της ίσης μεταχείρισης προσώπων ασχέτως φυλετικής ή εθνοτικής τους καταγωγής, της Οδηγίας 2000/78/ΕΚ για τη διαμόρφωση γενικού πλαισίου για την ίση μεταχείριση στην απασχόληση και την εργασία και της Οδηγίας 2014/54/ΕΕ περί μέτρων που διευκολύνουν την άσκηση των δικαιωμάτων των εργαζομένων στο πλαίσιο της ελεύθερης κυκλοφορίας των εργαζομένων, ΙΙ) λήψη αναγκαίων μέτρων συμμόρφωσης με τα άρ. 22, 23, 30, 31 παρ. 1, 32 και 34 του Κανονισμού 596/2014 για την κατάχρηση της αγοράς και την κατάργηση της Οδηγίας 2003/6/ΕΚ του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου και του Συμβουλίου και των οδηγιών της Επιτροπής 2003/124/ΕΚ, 2003/125/ΕΚ και 2004/72/ΕΚ και ενσωμάτωση της Οδηγίας 2014/57/ΕΕ περί ποινικών κυρώσεων για την κατάχρηση αγοράς και της εκτελεστικής Οδηγίας 2015/2392, ΙΙΙ) ενσωμάτωση της Οδηγίας 2014/62 σχετικά με την προστασία του ευρώ και άλλων νομισμάτων από την παραχάραξη και την κιβδηλεία μέσω του ποινικού δικαίου, και για την αντικατάσταση της απόφασης-πλαισίου 2000/383/ΔΕΥ του Συμβουλίου και IV) Σύσταση Εθνικού Μηχανισμού Διερεύνησης Περιστατικών Αυθαιρεσίας στα σώματα ασφαλείας και τους υπαλλήλους των καταστημάτων κράτησης
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