Court annuls Greece’s first same-sex marriages

Posted on 07 May 2009 at 5:37pm
By Associated Press

2 couples say they will fight ruling all the way to European Court of Human Rights

ATHENS, Greece — A Greek court annulled Greece’s only two same-sex marriages, officials said Tuesday, May 5, following a furious backlash against the ceremonies from the government and religious leaders.

The two couples — one male, one female — exploited a loophole in a 26-year-old law that did not specify gender in civil weddings, and were married in June last year by the mayor of the small Aegean Sea island of Tilos.

The ceremonies drew the wrath of the powerful Orthodox Church of Greece, with one conservative bishop denouncing them as weddings of "humanoid couples."

The government immediately declared the marriages illegal and invalid and a prosecutor tabled a suit at the nearby island of Rhodes seeking to annul the marriages.

The Rhodes court issued its ruling late Monday, May 4, doing that. It was expected to give its reasons later this month.

"Unfortunately, we don’t know the court’s reasoning yet," one of the women, Evangelia Vlami, told The Associated Press. "But we don’t care all that much about the reason, the main point is that the court decision fails to protect our human rights."

Both couples have vowed to appeal, their lawyer, Vassilis Heirdaris, said Tuesday.

"We believe it [the appeal court] will rule on human relationships based not on any formalities but on contemporary reality," said Vlami.

Vlami said she was prepared to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"We believe that our wedding is valid," she said. "We knew it would take a long fight, but we have patience."

Elsewhere in Europe, Sweden, The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Spain allow gay marriages.

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