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Greece may allow same-sex marriages March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Greece News.
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Greek authorities are considering adopting a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry in a civil ceremony, the country’s NET TV said on Monday.

The Greek Justice Ministry pledged to establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, which would “analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”

The move follows a request by the country’s National Commission for Human Rights that proposed a civil union registry that would allow both same-sex couples to marry. Parliament could approve the law in a few months, national media said.

The current 1982 marriage law does not specify the gender of the groom and the bride. However, civil authorities refuse to marry same-sex couples. They say the move could result in a number of further legal difficulties, including the issue of adoption by gay couples.

The Greek Orthodox Church, which strongly opposes same-sex marriages, called the possibility a “catastrophic bomb” and “a prostitution” which threatened Greek society.

Modern Greece is a largely conservative society, strongly influenced by the dominant church. Civil marriages became legal just 15 years ago, while most Greeks still prefer a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony. The first Gay Pride parade in Greece was held in 2005.

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Archbishop Ieronymos wants a more tolerant Church March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Politics, Religion & Faith.
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Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday distanced himself from the Holy Synod, which last week described cohabitation between unmarried couples as “prostitution,” saying the Church should be more open-minded and less moralizing.

“The Church is what Christ wants it to be, not what people want it to be,” Ieronymos told a congregation at Kalamata Cathedral. “We are giving the impression that the role of the Church is to force people to be good,” he said. Ieronymos cited the example of Saint Dionysus of Zakynthos, who reached sainthood even though he had sinned by harboring a criminal.

The Holy Synod’s statement, apparently influenced by Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, was a reaction to government plans to introduce a cohabitation law granting the same rights to couples who live together as those who are married.

Greek Church against cohabitation March 18, 2008

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In the most emphatic fashion, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.”

The Synod’s reaction signals an about-turn for Archbishop Ieronymos, who last week appeared to accept that changing the bill was beyond the Church’s sphere of influence.

However, this was completely overturned yesterday when the Synod issued a statement saying that it did not approve of the government trying to make its proposals part of the country’s legal framework.

The new law is set to allow unmarried couples to make their relationship official and legally binding by signing a simple notarial contract. This would give each partner the same rights as if the couple were married.

The Synod said that the draft law constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution” the Synod said in a statement.

Sources said that Ieronymos had wanted the Synod to adopt a more moderate approach in line with his comments last week but most of the other 12 members of the Synod seemed to favor a more outspoken stance.

“That was the opinion of one person, this is the opinion of 13,” said Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, a member of the Synod, explaining the difference between Ieronymos’s position last week and this week.

UPDATE >>> 19 March 2008 >>> Ieronymos ire > Archbishop angry with wording of Synod response to cohabitation law

Archbishop Ieronymos, the Head of the Church of Greece, is upset the Holy Synod issued a statement on Monday saying that any form of partnership that is not a marriage sanctioned by the Orthodox Church is “prostitution,” sources said yesterday.

The statement was apparently composed by Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, who insists that the wording was approved by the entire Synod. Sources said that Ieronymos was disturbed with the strong language used in the statement, although he did not object to the Church expressing opposition to the government’s plans to introduce a cohabitation law.

Gay Greeks cite legal loophole to tie the knot March 16, 2008

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A lesbian organization in Greece said Thursday it has discovered a loophole in a 26-year-old law that would allow gays to marry legally.

The group, OLKE, said a 1982 law legalizing weddings in civil ceremonies refers only to participating “persons” without specifying gender. Therefore, OLKE said, it will sue Municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples.

“If the Municipalities don’t give us the OK, the next step will be legal action” OLKE spokeswoman Evangelia Vlami told The Associated Press. “There should be no impediment for us. The law refers to ‘persons,’ not a man and a woman. … So we will proceed as if there is no obstacle.”

Vlami said the group had informed the Justice Ministry of its intentions, ahead of plans by the Ministry to introduce civil partnership legislation later this year granting legal rights to unmarried couples. It was not immediately clear whether gays would be included in the new law.

Gays are protected under Greek anti-discrimination laws, but gay groups complain they face widespread discrimination, in public and at work.

Ministry officials met Thursday with Greece’s new Orthodox Church leader, Archbishop Ieronymos, to discuss the civil partnership issue. The Church is traditionally staunchly opposed to granting gays legal rights, and the idea of common-law unions. But Ieronymos, enthroned last month, has not raised any objections to the proposed reforms. “There is a need to change with the time,” Ieronymos said Wednesday.

A controversial Greek legislation > cohabitation law March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Greece News, Lifestyle, Religion & Faith.
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Justice Minister and Archbishop of Greece to discuss controversial legislation

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis is due to meet today with Archbishop Ieronymos at the latter’s official residence in Plaka to discuss the government’s plans to introduce a cohabitation law, giving partners in a relationship the same rights as if they were married.

Hatzigakis reportedly requested the meeting following opposition from many clerics who claim the move would “downgrade the institution of marriage.” But Archbishop Ieronymos appears to be prepared. “Life goes on and we must learn to tackle its challenges,” he said, adding that the Holy Synod would debate the matter when it convenes next week.

UPDATE > 14 March 2008 >>> Church clears cohabitation law

The head of the Church of Greece Archbishop Ieronymos, yesterday gave a green light to the government’s plans to introduce a law that would allow couples who live together to have the same rights as those that are married.

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis presented the proposals to Archbishop Ieronymos amid concern that the Church might object to the change of law. However, Ieronymos, who was elected to succeed Archbishop Christodoulos last month, indicated that trying to interfere in the details of the law is beyond the Church’s remit.

«The members of the Church follow the dictates of the Bible, the rules of the Church, the order of the ecumenical synods and the Holy tradition,» said the Archbishop. «As a result, there are clear limits and in respect to this matter, the Church does not have the right to ask for it to be watered down or to have any other request granted.»

The new law is set to allow unmarried couples to make their relationship official and legally binding by signing a simple notarial contract. The contract would remain in effect, thus ensuring full protection of both partners’ legal rights, until they get married or one marries someone else.

There are no plans to extend the law to same-sex couples, although this may be considered in the future.

Yesterday’s meeting came as a lesbian couple announced that they will try next week to become the first same-sex partners to be married in a civil ceremony by taking advantage of a 1982 law which does not specify that a civil union must be between a man and a woman.

Ieronymos appeared to take a philosophical approach to the changes that are afoot. «Some people who have certain problems choose to regulate their lives in their own way,» he said. «The Church cannot keep a check on this by enforcing measures like the police.»

The Archbishop said that following his discussion with the Minister he was confident that the proper research would be carried out to see what the public thinks of introducing a cohabitation law.

A Church for the 21st century > With little drumbeating and no television cameras, the recently appointed Athens Archbishop is changing the face of the Church of Greece. Ieronymos is bringing the Church closer to the tradition of humility and love for one’s fellow man.

The new Archbishop gave away the luxury cars of his predecessor and turned down the luxury home in the upmarket Filothei district, opting instead for a small apartment. He is doing important charity work far from the glare of publicity and is steering clear of politics. He has rendered unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s, leaving diplomacy and the nation’s well-being to Caesar. Ieronymos does not aspire to become a leader of the nation but a shepherd of souls.

Ieronymos’s deeds elevate the Church in the eyes of the people. At the same time, they pre-empt its main detractors. The new Archbishop is bringing the Church back to society, a society in harmony not conflict. He is building a Church for the 21st century.

Church of Greece OKs Muslim cemetery in Athens March 8, 2008

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The newly elected Archbishop Ieronymos, the Head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, has given the go-ahead for the creation of a Muslim cemetery in Athens, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said yesterday after talks with the new Church leader.

“His Beatitude Ieronymos was already prepared and told me that we should move forward and realize the project”, Kassimis said following his talks with the Archbishop.

The move signals the desire of the Orthodox Church “to communicate and embrace all of the country’s residents irrespective of their religious persuasion” the Deputy Minister enthused.

The Church has donated 3 hectares of land, worth an estimated 13 million euros, for the creation of a Muslim cemetery in western Athens. In July 2006 the Greek government approved the building of a mosque near the center of Athens although works have yet to begin.

Greece’s new elected Archbishop calls for unity, truth February 11, 2008

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Greece’s newly elected Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday led his final Sunday service at the cathedral of Livadia, where he has been a local Bishop for nearly three decades, stressing the need for unity within the Church and good relations with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios.

Referring to his new role, Ieronymos said he regarded himself as “equal among equals… a coordinator” and stressed his desire to “work collectively and with unity.”

The 70-year-old cleric said the Church should do everything possible to protect the role of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate, saying its existence was “a blessing” for the Greek Orthodox Church. Vartholomaios had clashed frequently with the late Archbishop Christodoulos.

In an apparent reference to the wave of recent corruption scandals, Ieronymos said institutions and laws should be respected. “We are living in an era of confusion where lies can be presented as truth and bad as good… institutions are good and should be supported and laws are also good and should be observed,” he said.