LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Greece becomes 26th European country to recognise same-sex partnerships

Greek parliamentarians approved a new civil partnership bill today which will legally recognise same-sex couples for the first time.

ILGA-Europe send their congratulations to all the LGBTI organisations and politicians who have contributed to this historic result. Among 249 present parliamentarians, 194 voted for and 55 voted against this law.

The concept of registered partnership had existed in Greece since 2009 but was only available to heterosexual partners; this was declared discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights.  As a result of today’s vote, same-sex couples will now benefit from various rights and protections that were previously only enjoyed by married couples. These protections include inheritance but the new law does not include the ability to apply for joint adoption. The bill also extends greater anti-discrimination protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This is the realisation of years of political promises. Successive Greek governments had talked about legally recognising same-sex couples and I’m thrilled to finally see these positive words translated into meaningful change for couples in Greece.” said Joyce Hamilton, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, commented on the result: “This is also the culmination of years of civil society campaigning and advocacy work. The passion of the Greek LGBTI movement was palpable at our recent Annual Conference in Athens – this result today is a reward for that conviction.”

Following Syriza’s pre-election pledge to recognise same-sex couples, a bill was published in June. A revised draft of this bill was released by the justice ministry in November.

At ILGA-Europe’s 2015 Annual Conference in Athens, Minister for Justice Nikos Paraskevopoulos reiterated the government’s commitment to passing the civil partnership legislation. The minister made public assurances that the bill would be opened for consultation within days of the conference.

In addition to this, representatives from all the main parliamentary parties signed a detailed equality pledge, which included a promise to improve the law on legal gender recognition. It’s critical that the government starts to make progress on these issues and ILGA-Europe look forward to working with the Greek government in 2016 on the outstanding concerns mentioned in that document.