On January 16, the Grand Chamber is to hear the case Vallianatos and Others vs. Greece. The applicants are six Greek nationals who live in Athens, some of whom live together as couples, while others are in a relationship but do not cohabit.
Law no. 3719/2008 entered into force in November 2008. It made provision for the first time in Greece for an official alternative to marriage, in the form of civil unions.
The applicants complain among others that the law, which limits civil unions exclusively to adults of opposite sex, breaches their right to respect for their private life and the principle of prohibition of discrimination. The applications were lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on May 6, 2009.
On June 3, 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing a legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which had also opposed the introduction of heterosexual civil marriage, the original intent of the 1982 law. At the time, Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis declared the Tilos marriages invalid, and Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas had warned Aliferis of the legal repercussions of his breach of duty, but said he had no intention of annulling the marriages. The government filed a court motion to annul the two same-sex marriages, stirring demonstrations and protests among the LGBT community.
On May 5th, 2009, a court ruled the marriages invalid, but the couples intended to appeal the ruling up to the European Convention of Human Rights. The hearing of the case in the court of appeals was held on January 14, 2011 and the decision came out on April 14, 2011. It also ruled the two marriages non-existent.
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