Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

Focus

Greece ends discrimination of gay people in civil union law

  • Gay pride in Thessaloniki, 2013. New law will allow citizens in a same-sex relationship to enter into a civil union (Photo: Ira Gelb)

Greece's parliament approved a bill late on Tuesday evening (22 December) allowing citizens in a same-sex relationship to enter into a civil union, a legal arrangement similar to marriage.

The law overrides the legal situation of the past seven years during which only men and women were allowed to have a civil union, and which the European Court of Human Rights has said was discriminatory.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Tsipras: 'Greek society is not as fearful and mean as some people wish to present it'

“This ends a period of backwardness and shame for the state, which led to our country receiving international rulings against it,” said Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, according to Kathimerini newspaper.

“Instead of celebrating, though, maybe we should apologise to hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens that have been denied their rights all these years,” the left-wing leader added.

In 2008, Greece introduced civil union rights, but excluded people in same-sex relationships.

Several gay couples lodged complaints with the Strasbourg-based court, which oversees the rights established in the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a ruling of November 2013, the court said the Greek government “had not offered convincing and weighty reasons capable of justifying the exclusion of same-sex couples from the scope” of the civil union law.

Tuesday's adopted legislation attempts to correct this situation.

It was approved with 194 Yes votes and 55 No votes. The bill received support from Tsipras' Syriza party, centre-left and centrist MPs, and from around a third of members of centre-right New Democracy.

Syriza had made same-sex civil unions an election promise.

However, in Tsipras' coalition party, the right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks, six of its nine parliamentarians voted against. The neo-nazi Golden Dawn party and communists also voted against.

The Greek Orthodox Church had lobbied against the bill, with some bishops quoted as saying that homosexuality was a “crime”.

Gay rights lobby group Ilga-Europe was happy with the outcome.

“Successive Greek governments had talked about legally recognising same-sex couples and I’m thrilled to finally see these positive words translated into meaningful change for couples in Greece,” it said in a statement.

Human rights lobbyists from Amnesty also praised the result of the vote, but said more work was to be done to ensure the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI).

“Amnesty International stresses that the fight for LGBTI rights is far from over and urges the Greek government to guarantee all rights, including equality before the law (including marriage), adoption rights and legal gender recognition for transgender people,” Amnesty said in a press statement.

It added that “LGBTI people in Greece still live in a climate of hostility from which the authorities are failing to protect them adequately”.

Prime minister Tsipras said the vote showed “Greek society is not as fearful and mean as some people wish to present it”, but added that more change was needed.

“We have a long distance to cover to continue the daily struggle against every type of discrimination, especially against racism,” noted Tsipras.

“This struggle needs democratic forces and social movements to come together. It requires constant vigilance and political courage so we do not let darkness win,” he said.

The Greek vote came just two days after Slovenians rejected gay marriage in a popular vote.

Almost two-thirds of those who showed up at a referendum voted to repeal a gay marriage law passed earlier by the Slovenian parliament.

Slovenia rejects gay marriage law

Almost two-thirds of people rejected a law on gay marriage in Slovenia’s referendum on Sunday, highlighting an east-west EU cultural divide.

LGBTI protection still lacking in EU

Despite some welcome advances, some legal rights for the LGBTI community are lacking in EU member states, and the rise of the populist right is making things worse, conference in Warsaw is told.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban