Rift in coalition over civil union rights for same-sex couples

A new rift appeared in the ruling coalition on Wednesday following discussions by officials from the two parties about the possibility of extending legislation allowing unmarried couples to have their partnership legally recognized to same-sex couples.

The Justice Ministry rebuffed reports that an amendment foreseeing the extension would be attached to an anti-racism law that has been submitted to Parliament. But the denial followed extensive talks between officials from PASOK and conservative New Democracy, which were said to have resulted in an agreement that both sides would back such an amendment to extend civil union legislation to same-sex couples. It is thought that the Justice Ministry came under pressure from some of ND’s more conservative MPs.

A ministry source told Kathimerini that Greece recognized its obligation to harmonize its laws with European legislation but said that, so far, there was “no agreement with any political party.” The official was not explicit but appeared to be referring to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this month which 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 ruling followed an appeal by four Greek same-sex couples who claimed a 2008 law violated their rights and constituted unjustified discrimination.

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