Dec 22 Greece late on Tuesday enacted a human-rights’ bill which allows civil partnership agreements between same-sex couples despite protests and opposition from political parties and the powerful Orthodox Church.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the bill would end a practice of “backwardness and shame” for Greece.
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.
While the bill is highly unpopular in Greece, the Parliament could face European Court of Justice sanctions for discrimination if it does not pass the measure to meet European Union standards.
The new law does not provide for the adoption of children.
“Instead of celebrating this, we should apologize to thousands of our fellow citizens”, Tsipras added.
Amnesty International hailed the move as a “historic step” but noted that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons still faced hostility in Greece.
In 2008, Greece introduced civil union rights, but excluded people in a same-sex relationship from enjoying these rights.
Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus said the cohabitation bill is a result of the “constant war against the true faith” being waged “by the global Zionist monster”, which he said controls the Greek government.
The conservative party decided not to back the legislation after feeling that its objections to some aspects of the law had not been satisfied.
Same-sex civil unions had been an election promise by Syriza.
Outside the government building, civil rights marchers held banners declaring “Love is the Law” and “All I want for Christmas is Equality”.
“Homosexuality is a deviation from the laws of nature”, Bishop Amvrosios told the Associated Press.
More than 60 percent of Slovenian voters opposed legalising gay marriage in a referendum Sunday, where activists there had hoped to see the largely Catholic nation become Europe’s first ex-communist country to give same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.
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