Recognition of same-sex unions in Greece

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Greece recognizes same-sex unions by allowing them to enter into cohabitation agreement since 24 December 2015. The bill to this effect was approved by the parliament on 23 December 2015 and published in the government gazette the following day.

Registered partnership

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.

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.[1]

The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), under George 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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 cohabitation agreement 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.[9]

In February 2013, Minister of Justice Antonis Roupakiotis stated that the government considers amending the cohabitation agreement law to include same-sex couples.[10][11]

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.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

On 9 February 2015, the SYRIZA-led coalition government, sworn in on 27 January 2015, has promised to extend cohabitation agreements to same-sex couples.[16][17]

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.[18] Shortly after a committee was formed to study the issue until 15 June 2015.[19] The bill was published on 10 June 2015.[20][21]

On 9 November 2015, a new draft of the cohabitation agreement bill granting all the rights of marriage except adoption 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.[22][23] The bill was submitted to the parliament on 9 December,[24][25][26] and approved on 23 December 2015, with 193 voting yes, 56 no and 51 absent.[27][28][29] The law was signed by the President of Greece and published in the government gazette on 24 December 2015. It took effect upon publication.[30]

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".[31][32][33] The government 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 Rodos ruled the marriages were invalid, but the couples intended to appeal the ruling, up to the ECHR if necessary.[34] The hearing of the case in the court of appeal of Dodekanisos 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b Greek gays demonstrate for marriage,, 28 September 2008
  3. ^ Greek gays find loophole in marriage law, Pink News, 13 March 2008
  4. ^ Greeks consider recognising same-sex couples
  5. ^ New gay friendly government after elections?
  6. ^ (in Greek) «Δεν αρκεί το σύμφωνο ελεύθερης συμβίωσης»
  7. ^ (in Greek) Σύμφωνο Συμβίωσης για ομόφυλα ζευγάρια προωθεί η κυβέρνηση
  8. ^ (in Greek) Ερχεται το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  9. ^ Tugwell, Paul (22 August 2011). "Greece Bias Against Gays-Lesbians Compounds Debt Crisis as Tourism Suffers". Bloomberg.
  10. ^ (in Greek) Διάλογος για την επέκταση του συμφώνου συμβίωσης σε ομόφυλα ζευγάρια
  11. ^ (in Greek) Ρουπακιώτης: Διάλογος για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης για ομοφυλόφιλους
  12. ^ "ECHR: "Exclusion of same-sex couples from civil unions is illegal"". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
  13. ^ (in Greek) Ανάληψη πρωτοβουλίας του ΠΑΣΟΚ για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  14. ^ (in Greek) Τροπολογία για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης από το ΠΑΣΟΚ
  15. ^ Same-Sex Civil Partnership Agreements in Greece
  16. ^ "New Greek govt vows to back gay partnership law, following intl court decision and criticism". Associated Press. StarTribune. 9 February 2015.
  17. ^ Pike, Molly Rose (9 February 2015). "Greece to grant legal recognition to same-sex couples". Pink News.
  18. ^ (in Greek) ΕΝΤΟΣ ΔΥΟ ΜΗΝΩΝ ΤΟ ΝΟΜΟΣΧΕΔΙΟ Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης και στα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια
  19. ^ (in Greek) Σύσταση και συγκρότηση νομοπαρασκευαστικής επιτροπής για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης
  20. ^ Greece Proposes Civil Partnerships For Same-Sex Couples
  21. ^ Greece to introduce bill giving same-sex couples civil union rights
  22. ^ New Greek Draft Law Allows Civil Partnership Rights to Same Sex Couples
  23. ^ Δημόσια Διαβούλευση για το σχέδιο νόμου ««Σύμφωνο Συμβίωσης και άλλες διατάξεις»
  24. ^ (in Greek) Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης, άσκησης δικαιωμάτων, ποινικές και άλλες διατάξεις
  25. ^ Same-sex couples will have equal rights with heterosexual couples with cohabitation agreements
  26. ^ Church of Greece Reacts to Bill Giving Civil Partnership Rights to Same-Sex Couples
  27. ^ Greek Parliament approves law on same-sex civil partnerships
  28. ^ Greek parliament legalizes same-sex cohabitation
  29. ^ Greek Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Civil Partnerships
  30. ^ (in Greek) NOMOΣ ΥΠ’ ΑΡΙΘ. 3456 Σύμφωνο συμβίωσης, άσκηση δικαιωμάτων, ποινικές και άλλες διατάξεις.
  31. ^ (in German) Erste gleichgeschlechtliche Ehen auf griechischer Insel
  32. ^ AFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battle
  33. ^ "Greece sees first gay 'marriage'". BBC News. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  34. ^ "Same-sex marriages annulled as illegal in Greece". London: Guardian. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 15 September 2009.