The legal recognition of gay couples is not something the government is thinking of introducing, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday, but a committee is looking into the possibility of giving more rights to unmarried heterosexual couples. Responding to a question from Synaspismos Left Coalition leader Alekos Alavanos, Papaligouras told Parliament that Greek society was not ready to accept a change in the law giving rights to homosexual couples who live together. «Any legislative initiative cannot exceed the tolerance and the sentiment of what is generally acceptable in any society,» Papaligouras said. «Every change has to mature in society before it can be decreed as law.» A number of other European Union countries have reformed their legislation to recognize rights for same-sex couples and, in some cases, gay marriage, but the minister said the ND government does not believe the majority of the Greek public wants such measures introduced right now. Gay relationships have long been a taboo subject in Greece. Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Church of Greece, has even referred to homosexuality as an «illness.» Alavanos said it was a sign of progress that the issue is now being discussed openly by politicians and the media. He asked Papaligouras to form a law-drafting committee to examine the possibility of giving greater recognition to same-sex couples. The minister said that a committee was examining possible changes to the law in the case of heterosexual people who live together but there were no plans to extend that to homosexual couples.