Gay couples protest against Bishop Seraphim at Epiphany ceremony in Piraeus

Epiphany, a public holiday in Greece, was marked by a traditional religious ceremony at Piraeus, where gay couples protested against the port city’s ultra-conservative bishop, Seraphim.

Accoridng to Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, several gay couples kissed as Seraphim conducted the blessing of the waters, throwing a crucifix into the sea. They also handed out leaflets reading: “Love is not a sin”.

Seraphim is known for his homophobic and anti-Semetic statements. He recently opposed plans to extend legislation allowing unmarried couples to have their partnership legally recognized to same-sex couples.

He said that any other relationship, barring that between a male and a female, “is a unnatural aberration not even observed in animals.”

A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in November condemned Greece for excluding gays from civil partnerships. The court ruled that Greece had not offered “convincing and weighty reasons” to justify excluding gays.

The government was represented at Monday’s ceremony in Piraeus by Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, who said that 2014 would be the last year in Greece’s effort to exit the crisis.