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Greece may allow same-sex marriages March 31, 2008

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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.

Gay rights for Greeks March 29, 2008

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Justice Ministry looking at law for homosexual couples in Greece

The Justice Ministry has pledged to establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, following a request by the National Commission for Human Rights.

The Ministry said it would set up a working group, with the help of the Commission, “to analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”

Greek bloggers fight for gay partnership equality March 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Lifestyle, Politics, Religion & Faith.
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More than 200 weblogs have joined an initiative called Greek Bloggers Against Discrimination to campaign against proposed new legislation on domestic partnerships that excludes same-sex couples.

“This discriminatory project has been widely denounced not just by the LGBT community, but also Greek citizens from all walks of life who believe that it violates the Equality clause enshrined in our constitution, as well as the country’s European commitments,” the group said. “We ask our friends in Europe and around the world to help us achieve the widest possible publicity for these initiatives.”

Gay rights group Olke plans to lobby the Greek government and has slammed what they perceive as an unlawful draft bill. Greek government policy is still steadfastly anti-gay. Gay marriage has long been opposed and gays are still barred from entering the military. However, homosexuals in Greece are still seeking a greater voice within their country in recent years, which culminated in the first Gay Pride parade in 2005.

A Greek lesbian couple in Athens are due to attempt to marry in a civil ceremony in the country’s first same-sex marriage. The law does not explicitly proclaim a civil union must take place between a man and a woman and the couple are hoping to take advantage of that loophole.

The Greek Othordox Church’s governing synod has described the plans to afford unmarried or defacto couples the same legal rights as their married counterparts as a “catastrophic bomb” which threatened Greek society and compared the move to “prostitution.”

For a full list of the weblogs that have signed on the initiative > http://gayrightsgreece.blogspot.com/2008/03/domestic-partnership-that-discriminates.html

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.

Privacy Rights for gay men March 15, 2008

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Insurance firm fined for using records to deny coverage to gay man

Greece’s privacy watchdog has fined an insurance company 60,000 euros because it illegally delved into the personal records of a client before deciding not to provide him with life insurance because he was gay, sources said yesterday.

The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) discovered that the insurance firm used the man’s military service record, which showed he had not served because of his sexual orientation, to deny him life insurance. The man already had fire and theft insurance with the company. The APPD considered this to be a breach of the man’s right to privacy by the company, which was not named.

Nation’s first same-sex pair to marry March 15, 2008

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Lesbians aim to be first same-sex pair to exchange “I dos” in Greece

A Greek female couple reportedly will attempt to become the nation’s first same-sex pair to marry, in a test of a 1982 civil-union law that does not specify the gender of the participants. Meanwhile, Greek gay-rights group Olke is lobbying the government for equal marriage and adoption rights.

Read this article at > Yahoo!/Agence France-Presse

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.