The first civil union was conducted by Athens’ Mayor Giorgos Kaminis yesterday.

Same-sex couples in Greece began entering into civil unions on Monday (January 25) after legislation passed in December came into effect.

The first civil union ceremony conducted was by Mayor Kaminis and was between an unnamed male couple – a doctor and a teacher.

“As the first day that the law is being implemented, today is very important for civil rights in Greece and the country’s compliance to international reality,” Kaminis said during the ceremony.

Kaminis later expressed his hope for the couple’s “bright future”, before tweeting a photograph of himself signing the union at Athens’ City Hall.

“I signed the first same-sex civil partnership paperwork,” he wrote.

“This is a big day for the civil rights in Greece.”

During Athens Pride last year, Kaminis said he hoped to perform the first civil union in Greece, saying it would be a “great honour”.

Many took to Twitter to congratulate the couple – and the mayor – with one user describing him as a “sober champion of equality and freedom.”

The Greek parliament voted in favour of ‘cohabitation pacts’ for same-sex couples last month.

The new legislation will grant homosexual couples many of the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts – however, the country has a long way to go before legalising same-sex marriage.

Members of the Greek parliament voted to re-draft a civil partnerships law from 2008 – which explicitly banned same-sex couples.

The bill was strongly supported by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – who has long supported on LGBT rights, though the country’s financial crisis remains a driving force of the government.

Mr Tsipras said he hoped the passing of the law would end “a circle of embarrassment for the state”.

In 2013, the country was heavily condemned by the European Court of Human Rights – which ruled that law should never have excluded same-sex couples.