Greece’s Democratic Left party has introduced an amendment that would see the country’s civil unions scheme for heterosexual couples who do not wish to marry extended to same-sex couples in line with a European Court of Human Rights ruling.
In early November the court ordered Greece to allow same-sex couples access to the scheme by which the country has recognized the property rights of co-habiting committed opposite-sex couples since 2008.
The amendment seeks to attach the issue to the draft law of the Greek Ministry of Justice covering ‘Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the General Assembly of the United Nations.’
The Democratic Left amendment notes that Article 4 of the Greek Constitution states that all citizens are equal before the law and that ‘as the National Commission of Human Rights has emphasized, the exclusion of the cohabitation agreement of same-sex couples is discriminatory against them.’
‘At the same time, sexual orientation is now explicitly included on an international level in the prohibited types of discrimination and the Greek legislation has included it in various statutes.’
However the Democratic Left are a minority opposition party in the Greek Parliament and it remains to be seen whether the center-right New Democracy party lead government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will support the amendment.
Greece’s Justice Ministry has said it will study the ruling. However Russia, who is also under European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction has repeatedly ignored orders from the court and it remains to see whether Greece will do the same.
The only other country in Europe to give heterosexual couples an alternative legal recognition to marriage but not same-sex couples is Lithuania so it is likely the court would side against Lithuania as well if activists took legal action there.