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Greece Takes First Step to Legal Gay Unions


By deTraci Regula
Greece Travel Expert, about.com
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Gay couples in Greece got a kind of Christmas present this year when legislation approving civil unions for gay couples was approved on December 23rd and went into effect on December 24th, 2015 Greece has long been a destination of irony - its rich historical past celebrated  same-sex partnerships, but for the thousands of gay tourists visiting Greece, the modern lack of acceptance has made it a much tougher sell for gay honeymooners. Now that may be about to change. In December 2015, under the aegis of Alex Tsipras' SYRIZA government, Greece has voted to allow same sex civil partnerships.

While this is not legalizing gay marriage, it's an important step for Greece. The reasons have not been all altruistic or humanitarian though - the European Union has been applying pressure on Greece to do so for some time. Greece was chastised for omitting gay couples from legislation regarding cival unions in 2013. But it's helpful at this moment, when Slovenia recently voted down similar legislation, further defining a rift between the more "western" nations of the EU and the former Eastern-bloc nations like Slovenia.

Similar legislation was struck down in 2011, when a land-breaking bill passed making it illegal to incite violence against someone based on their sexual orientation. While this bill against homophobia was welcomed, it had been hoped that another piece of legislation including gay couples under civial partnerships would be approved at the same time, but such was not to be.

Will this new legislation have an impact on gay visitors to Greece? It may make it a more attractive destination, but gay marriage ceremonies will still have no legal effect beyond what the civil partnership provides. But that has not stopped a number of providers of wedding services who specialize in weddings for gay couples - most of them from abroad. These couples have usually not been seeking a legal wedding and often have gone through a civil ceremony in their home nations prior to coming to Greece for what amounts to a symbolic recognition of their union.

[post_ads]One Greek authority took matters into his own hands - the mayor of the small Greek island of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two gay couples when it seemed that existing law only mentioned "persons", not a man and a woman. But the unions were not recognized in Greece and are still traveling through the courts, now in the European Court of Human Rights. Tilos itself enjoyed a small boost in gay and other visitors after the publicity surrounding the event, but since the union was not accepted, there was not much of a lasting impact on the little island. Previously, Tilos was best known for its preservation of the remains of an ancient species of pygmy elephants. In the meantime, the best-known "gay" islands include Mykonos, which became known as a gay-friendly island in the beginning of its jet set fame starting in the 1960s, and Lesvos or Lesbos, the birthplace of the poetess Sappho whose works celebrated young women and which is the site of an annual largely gay Women's Festival at Eressos.


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Travel Magazine: Greece Takes First Step to Legal Gay Unions
Greece Takes First Step to Legal Gay Unions
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