Greek mayor charged over gay weddings

Tony Grew June 3, 2008
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A prosecutor on the Greek island of Rhodes has begun legal proceedings against a local Mayor who married two same-sex couples this morning.

The country’s Justice minister has said that the civil cermonies performed by Tasos Aliferis on the small island of Tilos were illegal.

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

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

At dawn today two couples, one gay and one lesbian, were married in a civil ceremony.

Newlywed Evangelia Vlami told the BBC:

“From this day, discrimination against gays in Greece is on the decline. We did this to encourage other gay people to take a stand.”

Ms Vlami is a member of gay rights group the Lesbian and Gay Community of Greece (OLKE).

They had threatened to sue local authorities in Greece who refuse to marry same-sex couples after discovering that a 1982 law on civil wedding ceremonies refers only to “persons.”

Last Friday Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas said Greece’s constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

He has wrote to prosecutors outlining how Article 21, “the family, being the cornerstone of the preservation and the advancement of the Nation, as well as marriage, motherhood and childhood, shall be under the protection of the State,” means same-sex marriage is illegal.

The Rhodes prosecutor has charged Mr Aliferis with a breach of duty.

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