The June 2008 nuptials of two gay
couples in Greece have been annulled by a Greek court, Reuters
news service reports.
Last year, two couples, one gay another
lesbian, married on the small Aegean island of Tilos. The ceremony,
officiated by Anastassios Aliferis, the island's Socialist mayor, was
shrouded in secrecy until the last minute.
The couples claimed they were free to
marry because Greek civil law does not specify gender in matrimony.
“The court said the weddings were
invalid,” the defendants' lawyers, Vassilis Hirdaris, told Reuters.
“We will appeal within May … but I fear the appeal court's
decision won't be different, considering how conservative Greek
Officials with the influential Greek
Orthodox Church widely condemned the marriages. Former Archbishop
Chritodoulous of Athens once called being gay a “defect.”
Greece remains a stronghold for
anti-gay sentiment in an increasingly liberal Europe. Many European
countries have legalized gay marriage – Sweden, Norway,
Netherlands, Belgium and Spain – or gay unions.
“Greece is depriving some of its
citizens of their human rights,” said Evangelia Vlami, one of the
spouses and a prominent gay activist.