New bill boosts rights for gay couples

A Justice Ministry bill that was put up for public consultation on Wednesday stipulates that same-sex couples entering cohabitation agreements should have the same rights as married couples but bars them from marriage and common adoption.

The bill, which was posted on the ministry’s website on Wednesday, essentially amends an existing law granting greater rights to heterosexual couples who are not married, seven years after its approval. This follows Greece’s conviction in December 2013 by the European Court which deemed that the existing law discriminates against gays.

The new bill does not permit marriage between same-sex couples, but several appeals by citizens to the Supreme Court demanding the right to gay marriage are pending.

On the issue of adoption, although the bill prohibits joint adoption by same-sex couples, existing legislation allows individuals to adopt children.

The bill, which has been drafted by Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos, foresees that both heterosexual and same-sex couples signing a cohabitation agreement have the same rights in terms of pensions, taxation and inheritance as couples who are married.

As regards the division of property and assets, parties entering cohabitation agreements can choose to retain a majority stake for themselves rather than sharing all their assets with their partners.

It remained unclear when a parliamentary vote will be held on the new bill, which was put up for public consultation just a few days before Pride events are to take place in Athens and other cities on Saturday.