Cohabitation bill not for gays

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis yesterday stressed that a proposed cohabitation law, granting heterosexual couples living together the same rights as those who are married, would not be extended to gay couples. «This (bill) is as far as we need to go to fulfill the demands and needs of Greek society - if new behavior develops in the future, we will examine the issue again,» Hatzigakis told Parliament. The minister was reacting to appeals for the reforms to apply to gays too, submitted in Parliament by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the National Committee for Human Rights and another group representing lawyers from around the country. «The law should serve social needs, not vice versa,» said criminologist Aliki Yiotopoulou-Marangopoulou, noting that other European countries have introduced cohabitation laws specifically for their gay communities as heterosexual couples already have the options of religious and civil marriage ceremonies. «It is an issue we will have to tackle at some point anyway, due to the European Convention on Human Rights,» Sofia Spilio-topoulou of the National Committee for Human Rights remarked. Meanwhile, all the opposition parties in Parliament expressed reservations about aspects of the broader family law bill submitted by Hatzigakis which not only foresees the introduction of the cohabitation law but also a swifter process for issuing divorces and simplification of the state adoption system. PASOK Deputy Theodora Tzakri claimed that the proposed legislation was «unfair» overall to the financially less solvent half of the couple and needed fine-tuning.