Greece’s new government has announced it will grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Greece lags behind most of Western Europe on gay rights, banning same-sex adoption and refusing to recognise same-sex relationships.

However, the radical left-wing Syriza party – which swept to power earlier this month – has confirmed it will seek recognition for same-sex couples.

Justice Minister Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos confirmed plans to Parliament today to open civil partnerships, which have been available to straight couples since 2008, to all couples.

The news is surprising given the party’s coalition with right-wing Greek Independents, which actively opposes gay rights.

Greek Independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos previously labelled Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and his partner “FAGGOT MATES”.

Syriza is the only Greek parliamentary party to have previously expressed support for same-sex marriage, with new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling for a number of gay rights reforms in the past.

However, the party had appeared to back off its socially liberal stance in the past year as it sought a more mainstream appeal – with Mr Tsipras walking back his prior comments on the issue.

When asked about same-sex adoption recently, he said: “It is a difficult subject that requires dialogue. There are contradictions in the scientific community about this and we will not include it in our policy program.”

In 2013, the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights awarded damages to plaintiffs when they successfully challenged Greece over the civil partnership law.