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European Court of Human Rights rules against Greece’s ban on gay civil unions

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  1. Let ‘s see what happens now. The greek center-right coalition government is not keen on improving life for gay greek citizens. They regularly present the curent economic difficulties as an excuse not to work on things like that. And the general public agrees. Unfortunately most of greek gays also agree. Greece must step up. It’s about time!!!

    1. David Cade 8 Nov 2013, 1:08pm

      Yes, and all those Greek gays and lesbians who are not passive and not held back by fear must step up and take more and more such cases to the ECHR. Imagine if 100s of Greek gay and lesbian couples went to the ECHR! Imagine the headlines that would get in Europe. Imagine the shame for the Greek government. The Greek government would eventually be forced into having to resist the demands of the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, and to comply with the principles of equality of the EU, of which Greek is supposed to be a part.

      1. It remains to be seen how quickly the far-right New Democracy party/coalition will act to change the law. The Greek Orthodox Church has an inordinate amount of Constitutionally protected influence on legislators. It recently issued a kind of “fatwa” against same-sex marriage in Nis, Serbia at a meeting with the heads of eight factions of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including Russia’s Archbishop Kirill. The bishops are not fans of democracy or equality especially when it interferes with church dogma, no matter how shameful that dogma may be.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 7 Nov 2013, 3:41pm

    Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, the ECHR ordered the UK to introduce legal unions other than marriage for gay couples. The ECHR refuses to enforce equal marriage because it offends the sensibilities of religious nutters but rules against a country’s ban against civil unions that are also opposed by the Greek Orthodox cult. It’s as hypocritical as the ECJ.

    1. I’m fairly sure the ECtHR has never ruled that the UK had to introduce civil unions – they ruled that Austria didn’t quite recently (there have been some important LGBT rights decisions against the UK, such as on the age of consent, gender recognition, and allowing LGB people in the military). The only difference here is that Greece already has civil unions, but they are reserved for opposite-sex couples.

      The ECtHR’s position over the last few years has been that discrimination against LGBT people by governments is not allowed except for bans on same-sex marriage – it isn’t really an unreasonable interpretation of the ECHR, which seems to say that only opposite-sex couples have a right to marriage. If you read between the lines of the decision in the Austrian case, they seem to suggest that they are likely to find a right to same-sex marriage in the future, but at the moment it is just too politically difficult, as it would be extremely unpopular in several CoE member states.

  3. David Cade 7 Nov 2013, 4:26pm

    Excellent news! A real breakthrough! And now if more and more gay and lesbian Greek couples also have the courage to bring cases against the Greek government, then eventually the Greek government will see the foolishness of continually having to pay out compensation and it will finally grant Greece’s 100s of 1000s of homosexual citizens the respect and dignity they deserve!

    1. That’s assuming that one of their nutter religious bishops doesn’t bring a blasphemy lawsuit against an LGBT couple. Greece may be the only EU country that fully enforces its blasphemy laws, and they’ve been used repeatedly to target Greek LGBT activists and gay-themed plays as “undesirable”.

      1. It s true that blasphemy laws still exist in Greece. They haven’t been used for many years, and there are many calls for their total abolition. Greek lgbt activists and gay themed plays have been targeted by the church, but it s the civil courts that decide. The play you re refering to, was totaly allowed to be staged and some activists have been charged when they turned against bishops but NOT for blasphemy. Greece is not Russia or Iran. There is civil law and civil liberties that are beeing respected. There can be no blasphemy lawsuit against LGBT couples. You are mal informed. It s the government that decides and votes laws that the courts enforce. Still, the influence of the church over the governments is the real problem.

          1. There have been ACCUSATIONS and charges of blasphemy. NOT CONVICTIONS at court. Most of the charges yoe are refering to have been dropped and the remaining are expected to drop at court. Greek courts have repeatedly denied protection to church under blasphemy laws, but the church still makes use of them in accusations. That s why some poltical parties are asking for their abolition.
            The thetrical play was allowed to be staged by court (I watched it !!!!). It came down NOT by state or court order, but by the producers who had to go through constant harassement by the neo-nazis (which is a very sad event in its own right). There had to be a large police force outside the theatre every night, so neo-nazis could not reach it. But we DID watch the play.
            I m just making things clear. NOT denying the influence of greek church over governments and the general public.

        1. Vavi, I think the important detail to bear in mind here is that the blasphemy law that remains in place in Greece, as part of the Greek Constitution, continues to maintain a very strong general influence on Greek life. One thing it achieves is the continued conviction in Greece that the wishes and beliefs of the Greek Orthodox Church are part and parcel of the ethos of the state. And indeed it is because of the extraordinary grip of the Greek Orthodox Church on Greek affairs that LGBTIs in Greece continue to be treated as 5th-rate citizens. You may like to read my book, “Athens – The Truth”, for further details. See:

          1. We are saying the exact thing. Greek church’s influence over greek politics is still very powerful. But the blasphemy law has been recently used for ACCUSATIONS at court. NOT CONVICTIONS. The charges have been largely dropped and all the remaining are expected also to drop.
            In your book you are comparing LGBT status in Greece with the Middle East of lashings, beheadings, and police violence on lgbt people. That is totally out of context. You completely ignored the gay “village” of Athens as well as all the gay organisations of Greece and their fight towards equality. You expected to see openly gay people on the streets of Athens. Have you really seen any outside of Soho in London? (or to be more precise even a few steps off Old Compton Street?)
            I suppose you are anxious to see more lgbt improvement in Greece, but do comparisons with Saudi Arabia (????) really help? I think not. You re just anihilating the hard work of lgbt organisations in Greece and the fight of many lgbt citizens

  4. Dimitris T 7 Nov 2013, 10:12pm

    Τhis decision is a brick in the establishment of Justice in Europe and in Greece.
    It is well-known that Greece is making for decades a big compilation of negative ECHR decisions concerning Human Rights. I hope that this will not last much longer. It needs reaction from the inside and from other European Countries. I invite you to establish a constant presence in Greek sites and fora. Almost every single Greek speaks -and it is easier to read- simple English. Let’s lance that Cyst, Greeks live in. I let you know that Euronews in Greek is not broadcasted here, ever since it started (in Greek Dec 2012). Greek people are dliberately kept isolated in terms of exchange of ideas. I can understand that many people in EU are tired with Greece, because of the bailout. But sometimes it is the Greek government that tries to preserve established discrepancies and to put greater load on the shoulders of the weakest.

    1. Dimitris, don’t you think that this will be a second-rate law when, and if passed, that gives registered partnership benefits without much else in the way of rights? When Greece’s registered partnership law was first passed 5 years ago for str8 couples (totally unnecessary!), it may have been passed by the Greek Parliament as a prelude to setting-up a means of postponing the inevitable for Greek LGBTs. They should be ashamed of themselves!

      1. Another interesting article of Pink News would be WHAT GREECE, my country, REALLY DOES WITH ECHR CONVICTIONS! Perhaps, a marvelous necklace?
        Of course they should be ashamed! The former minister of Justice, asked about same-sex partnerships, when this opposite-sex partnership was legislated, Mr Chatzigakis (one letter away from Chatzidakis) said, “NOT as long as I am minister of Justice”, because I am Orthodox! This reaction could be read vice-versa, that they made such a legislation, which is unnecessary and very few straight couples had signed such a partnership, knowing that they would be condemned by ECHR and one day say to conservative christian talibans that “bad Europe” implies that to us!

  5. How come banning equal marriage (as opposed to the ‘seperate but equal’ status) doesn’t violate it? Marriage is a civil contract not a religious institution.

    C’mon Greece, you guys INVENTED sodomy and now you won’t give people equal rights? Shame

  6. Dimitris T 8 Nov 2013, 8:30am

    The Greek government is not totally according to the law, in the way they shut public tv down, this is true. Their main concern is to assign the frequencies used by ERT for radio and tv transmission to new channels, all trashy, all far-right-populist style, none of them like Euronew, for example. The problem is right into the ability and pluralism in spreading ideas.
    Do I need to tell you that no tv channel, or radio station has mentioned the ECHR resolution on same-sex partnership? ZERO publicity!

    1. Is that true, Dimitris? Not a single TV channel in Greece, and not a single Greek radio station, has mentioned the ECHR judgement of yesterday in favour of the gay and lesbian right to marriage?

      Maybe some enterprising Greek gays and lesbians need to set up an off-shore pirate radio station, perhaps in Italy, so as to broadcast to the LGBTIs of Greece and in Greek?

  7. …yet today .. we hear Croatia is to hold a referendum on making gay marriage illegal. Why haven’t EU authorities warned Croatia that, to introduce a ban would against EU rules and therefore any referendum is pointless?

  8. Care about gay rights in Greece?

    Please help us by signing the petition on avaaz named “Modify the Civil Partnership Law so that it extends to same-sex couples”

    Thanks a lot!

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