A Greek court has ruled that two gay marriages performed on the island of Tilos are invalid.

Tilos mayor Tassos Aliferis had allowed the marriages to take place in July last year, saying that civil marriage law did not specify gender.

However, the prosecutor of nearby island Rhodes, which has jurisdiction over Tilos, annulled the ceremonies on the grounds that they were illegal.

The couples, believed to be two men and women, have said they will take their cases to the European Court of Justice.

Their lawyer, Vassilis Hirdaris, told Reuters: “The court said the weddings were invalid. We will appeal within May … but I fear the appeal court’s decision won’t be different, considering how conservative Greek courts are.”

The marriages had caused anger in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki said that such a decision would degrade the human species and “make them equal to animals.”

However, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens distanced himself from the Holy Synod’s stance on the issue of cohabitation between unmarried couples saying that the Church “should be more open-minded and less moralistic.”