Greece’s government will introduce legislation to allow unmarried heterosexual couples to register their relationships.

Yesterday the country’s “inner Cabinet” unanimously decided to press ahead with reforms, including making divorces easier to obtain, despite religious opposition.

The Justice Minister, Sotiris Hatzigakis, said that rights for same-sex couples were not discussed.

In March the Greek Orthodox Church’s governing synod described moves by the Greek government 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.”

Gay rights have become a big issue in Greece in recent weeks.

In Athens last weekend Pride festivities were disrupted by right wing sympathisers. Police had to intervene.

One of four people married in a same-sex ceremony the previous week attended.

Tassos Alfieries, the Mayor of Tilos, an island with a population of less than 600, offered to perform Greece’s first gay wedding, after two men announced their intention to wed in a newspaper notice.

Lesbian and gay rights activists argue that the law does not explicitly proclaim a civil union must take place between a man and a woman.

A prosecutor on the Greek island of Rhodes then began legal proceedings against the Mayor.

Justice minister Hatzigakis said that the civil cermonies performed by Tasos Aliferis were illegal.

“There is no legal framework allowing same-sex marriages to be held in Greece.

“Attempts to conduct marriages involving same-sex couples are illegal. Social issues and problems should be handled responsibly and seriously.”

In April the Justice Ministry said it would establish a working group on the rights of gay couples living together, which would “analyse all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework.”