Recognition of same-sex unions in Greece

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Greece recognizes same-sex unions by allowing couples to enter into cohabitation agreements (Greek: σύμφωνο συμβίωσης) 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.

Cohabitation agreements[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

Introduction of cohabitation agreements for opposite-sex couples[edit]

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 would offer several rights to unmarried couples, but only 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.[1]

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 cohabitation agreements, even though it made no progress in the Parliament.[2]

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 "[t]here 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 LGBT rights in general and civil union laws in particular.[3]

Law 3719/2008 ("Reforms concerning the family, children and society"), which entered into force on 26 November 2008, established a form of partnership known as "cohabitation agreements" (σύμφωνο συμβίωσης, sýmphōno symbíosēs), only available to opposite-sex couples.

Extension of cohabitation agreements to same-sex couples[edit]

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.[4]

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.[5][6] The committee was constituted on 29 July 2010 and, according to its members, its work was 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.[7]

On 8 February 2011, the European Court of Human Rights decided to merge and accept two cases of four couples regarding a breach of article 8 (respect of private and family life) combined with article 14 (freedom from discrimination) and article 13 (effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. 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.

On 19 August 2011, a government official announced that legislation allowing the registration of same-sex relationships would be introduced soon.[8] In February 2013, Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis stated that the Greek Government was considering amending the cohabitation agreement law to include same-sex couples.[9][10]

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.[11] On 12 November, PASOK announced its intention to introduce a bill extending the cohabitation agreement law to same-sex couples.[12][13]

In November 2014, it was announced that many major changes to Greek 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 was not considering same-sex marriage.[14]

On 9 February 2015, the Syriza-led Coalition Government, sworn in on 27 January 2015, promised to extend cohabitation agreements to same-sex couples.[15][16] On 24 April 2015, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice announced its intention to bring a bill before Parliament within two months.[17] Shortly thereafter, a committee was formed to study the issue until 15 June 2015.[18] The bill was published on 10 June 2015.[19][20]

On 9 November 2015, a new draft of the cohabitation agreement bill (Law 4356/2015) 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.[21][22] The bill was submitted to Parliament on 9 December,[23][24][25] and approved on 23 December 2015, with 194 voting yes, 55 no and 51 abstentions.[26][27][28] The law was signed by the President of Greece and published in the government gazette on 24 December 2015. It took effect upon publication.[29]

The first same-sex cohabitation agreement was conducted on 25 January 2016 by the Mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis.[30][31]

On 9 November 2016, the Cabinet submitted a draft bill equalizing cohabitation agreements with marriages in most areas.[32][33][34][35] The bill was approved by Parliament on 2 December, in a 201-21 vote.[36] It was signed into law by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on 8 December 2016 and took effect upon publication in the government gazette the following day.[37]


According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, the number of cohabitation agreements per year is as follows:[38]

Year Same-sex unions Heterosexual
Female Male Total
2016 50 167 217 3,579 3,796 5.72%
2017 40 94 134 4,787 4,921 2.72%
2018 55 231 286 6,083 6,369 4.49%
Total 145 492 637 14,449 15,086 4.22%

Same-sex marriage[edit]

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.[39]

First marriages in Tilos[edit]

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".[40][41][42] Government officials filed a court motion to annul the two same-sex marriages, stirring demonstrations and protests among the LGBT community.[1]

On 5 May 2009, the court of first instance of Rhodes ruled the marriages were invalid, but the couples appealed the ruling.[43] A hearing on the case by the Court of Appeal of Dodecanese was held on 14 January 2011 and the decision came out on 14 April 2011. It also ruled that the two marriages were invalid. On 30 November 2017, this ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court. The couples have announced their intention to sue Greece before the European Court of Human Rights.[44]

Other lawsuits[edit]

A separate lawsuit, filed by a group of same-sex couples, to legalise same-sex marriage is being heard by the Greek Supreme Court. 162 other couples have also filed another lawsuit, and it is awaiting a hearing.[45]

2019 elections[edit]

On 10 June 2019, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated that same-sex marriage would be legalized if his Syriza party won the parliamentary election, held on 7 July 2019, but his party was not re-elected.[46][47]

Public opinion[edit]

Support for same-sex civil partnership (May 2015 poll)[48]

  For (70%)
  Against (20%)
  Don't know (10%)

Support for same-sex civil marriage (May 2015 poll)[48]

  For (56%)
  Against (35%)
  Don't know (9%)

A May 2015 Focus Bari poll found that 70% of Greeks agreed that civil partnerships should be extended to same-sex couples. The same poll also found majority support for same-sex marriage, with 56% in favor and 35% opposed.[49][48]

A more recent poll conducted by DiaNeosis in December 2016 showed that 50% of Greeks supported same-sex marriage and 26% were in favor of adoption by same-sex couples.[50]

The 2019 Eurobarometer found that 39% of Greeks thought same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 56% were against. The same poll found that 64% of respondents agreed with the statement: "Gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexual people", whereas 32% disagreed. Those figures marked an increase of 6% and 2%, respectively, compared to the 2015 Eurobarometer survey.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Greek gays demonstrate for marriage,, 28 September 2008
  3. ^ Greeks consider recognising same-sex couples
  4. ^ New gay friendly government after elections?
  5. ^ (in Greek) «Δεν αρκεί το σύμφωνο ελεύθερης συμβίωσης»
  6. ^ (in Greek) Σύμφωνο Συμβίωσης για ομόφυλα ζευγάρια προωθεί η κυβέρνηση
  7. ^ (in Greek) Ερχεται το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  8. ^ Tugwell, Paul (22 August 2011). "Greece Bias Against Gays-Lesbians Compounds Debt Crisis as Tourism Suffers". Bloomberg.
  9. ^ (in Greek) Διάλογος για την επέκταση του συμφώνου συμβίωσης σε ομόφυλα ζευγάρια
  10. ^ (in Greek) Ρουπακιώτης: Διάλογος για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης για ομοφυλόφιλους
  11. ^ "ECHR: "Exclusion of same-sex couples from civil unions is illegal"". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
  12. ^ (in Greek) Ανάληψη πρωτοβουλίας του ΠΑΣΟΚ για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  13. ^ (in Greek) Τροπολογία για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης από το ΠΑΣΟΚ
  14. ^ Same-Sex Civil Partnership Agreements in Greece
  15. ^ "New Greek govt vows to back gay partnership law, following intl court decision and criticism". Associated Press. StarTribune. 9 February 2015. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015.
  16. ^ Pike, Molly Rose (9 February 2015). "Greece to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples". Pink News.
  17. ^ (in Greek) ΕΝΤΟΣ ΔΥΟ ΜΗΝΩΝ ΤΟ ΝΟΜΟΣΧΕΔΙΟ Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης και στα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια
  18. ^ (in Greek) Σύσταση και συγκρότηση νομοπαρασκευαστικής επιτροπής για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  19. ^ Greece Proposes Civil Partnerships For Same-Sex Couples
  20. ^ Greece to introduce bill giving same-sex couples civil union rights
  21. ^ New Greek Draft Law Allows Civil Partnership Rights to Same Sex Couples
  22. ^ Δημόσια Διαβούλευση για το σχέδιο νόμου ««Σύμφωνο Συμβίωσης και άλλες διατάξεις»
  23. ^ (in Greek) Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης, άσκησης δικαιωμάτων, ποινικές και άλλες διατάξεις
  24. ^ Same-sex couples will have equal rights with heterosexual couples with cohabitation agreements
  25. ^ Church of Greece Reacts to Bill Giving Civil Partnership Rights to Same-Sex Couples
  26. ^ Greek Parliament approves law on same-sex civil partnerships
  27. ^ Greek parliament legalizes same-sex cohabitation Archived 2016-06-13 at
  28. ^ Greek Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Civil Partnerships
  29. ^ (in Greek) ΝΟΜΟΣ ΥΠ’ ΑΡΙΘ. 3456 Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης, άσκηση δικαιωμάτων, ποινικές και άλλες διατάξεις.
  30. ^ Williams, Joe (26 January 2016). "Athens Mayor performs Greece's first same-sex civil union". Pink News.
  31. ^ Potts, Andrew (26 January 2016). "Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis performs Greece's first gay civil union". Gay Star News.
  32. ^ (in Greek) Με ευρεία συναίνεση ψηφίστηκε το ν/σ για την ισότητα στην εργασία
  33. ^ (in Greek) Ευρεία συναίνεση για την ισότητα μεταχείρισης προσώπων ασχέτως φυλετικής ή εθνοτικής καταγωγής
  34. ^ "Government to legally equate civil partnership with marriage in Greece". Tornos News. 14 November 2016.
  35. ^ (in 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
  36. ^ Greek Parliament votes for a controversial bill to expand rights for LGBT people
  37. ^ ΝΟΜΟΣ ΥΠ’ ΑΡΙΘΜ. 4443
  38. ^ "Φυσική Κίνηση Πληθυσμού: 2018". (in Greek). 1 October 2019.
  39. ^ Greek gays find loophole in marriage law, Pink News, 13 March 2008
  40. ^ (in German) Erste gleichgeschlechtliche Ehen auf griechischer Insel
  41. ^ AFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battle Archived 2008-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "Greece sees first gay 'marriage'". BBC News. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  43. ^ "Same-sex marriages annulled as illegal in Greece". London: Guardian. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  44. ^ Court annuls same-sex marriage
  45. ^ "Civil partnership in Greece, a year later". Medium Corporation. 1 February 2017.
  46. ^ "Tsipras unveils SYRIZA's new 4-year-plan, pledges new jobs". Kathimerini. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  47. ^ ""Εξορθολογισμός" των σχέσεων με την Εκκλησία αλλά και γάμος ομοφυλοφίλων στην ατζέντα ΣΥΡΙΖΑ". Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  48. ^ a b c (in Greek) Έρευνα κοινής γνώμης για τα ΛΟΑΤ* δικαιώματα
  49. ^ (in Greek) Έρευνα για την ομοφυλοφιλία στην Ελλάδα: Υπέρ του συμφώνου συμβίωσης το 70%, αλλά 'κατά' των υιοθεσιών
  50. ^ Τι πιστεύουν οι Έλληνες το 2017 - Οι Απαντήσεις Σε 73 Διαγράμματα
  51. ^ "Eurobarometer on Discrimination 2019: The social acceptance of LGBTI people in the EU". TNS. European Commission. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2019.