Greece – the gay issue
Posted by Fr Mark on August 30, 2009
The Archbishop of Athens seems to be taking a more liberal line on same-sex civil unions, saying that “there is need to change with the time.”
Recognition of same sex couples
Although there is no official recognition of same-sex couples, a 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between “persons”, without specifying gender, allows in theory for same sex marriages. On 3 June 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two homosexual couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing the legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which in the past had also opposed the introduction of civil marriage. 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”.dieStandard.atAFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battleBBC NEWS | Europe | Greece sees first gay ‘marriage’
In the past, Greek political parties have had differing views. 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 Pacte civil de solidarité. 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. Greece’s leftist party Coalition of the Radical Left, reportedly supports same-sex marriage and Alekos Alavanos, the former leader of Synaspismos, stated that the coalition backed the fight against all kinds of discrimination and supported the free expression of sexual orientation including the legalization of same-sex marriages.
The government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis New Democracy is opposed to same-sex marriage. While the New Democracy-led government has introduced legislation that offers several rights to unmarried couples this explicitly includes only different sex couples, and it is the first time in the world that a civil union law has passed only for heterosexual couples. This law is expected to be declared unconstitutional or against EU principles if brought to Greek or European Courts.
The National Human Rights Committee proposed a registry that would cover both same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual ones.and the Greek group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples.
Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, said on the issue of gay marriage “There is a need to change with the time” keeping a surprisingly neutral position. The church has previously opposed gay rights in general and civil union laws in particular.