LGBT rights in Greece

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LGBT rights in Greece
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Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1951,
age of consent not equalized
Gender identity/expression -
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption No joint adoption by same-sex couples
Military service Gays exempted from conscription
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protection in employment since 2005 (see below)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Greece may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Greece, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Greece lacks many laws, provisions and basic rights that gay people enjoy in most developed countries of Western Europe and North America and LGBT issues are a particularly rare subject of public debate. Homosexuality is however becoming less a taboo and gays are enjoying growing visibility through the media, from print to film.

Legal status

Male homosexual practice was decriminalized in 1951 by the new Criminal Code adopted in 1950. Male prostitution has been legal since May 2006. Lesbians are not mentioned or acknowledged in the Greek Criminal Code. There are three discriminatory provisions in effect to this day in the Criminal Code - Among them;

  • Article 347 of the Greek Criminal Code; which provides for a higher age of consent of 17, for seducing a male person if the male partner is over 18 and for lesbians and both male/female heterosexuals (regardless of close-in-age or not) and for only close-in-age for male homosexuality, the age of sexual consent is 15.
  • The right of police to forcibly require that gay men be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.[1]
  • The status of homosexuals in the Greek Military. Gay men and women are barred from serving in the Greek military forces . Transvestites and transsexuals are automatically exempted from conscription.

Recognition of same sex couples

Constitutional arrangements

The Greek constitution provides no definition of marriage. It does stipulate that, like motherhood and childhood, it must be under the protection of the State.[2]

Political parties

In the past, Greek political parties have had differing views. Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), under George Andreas Papandreou presented in April 2006, a legislative proposal for the recognition of unmarried couples, homosexual and heterosexual, following the French example of the Pacte civil de solidarité. However, according to some LGBT groups, the proposal's controversial terminology made little headway on LGBT rights and PASOK's proposed 'partnership' banned same-sex couples from adopting. Greece's leftist party Coalition of the Radical Left, reportedly supports same-sex marriage and Alekos Alavanos, the former leader of Synaspismos, stated that the coalition backed the fight against all kinds of discrimination and supported the free expression of sexual orientation including the legalization of same-sex marriages.

The former government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis New Democracy was opposed to same-sex marriage. While the New Democracy-led government has introduced legislation that offers several rights to unmarried couples[3] this explicitly includes only different sex couples, and it is the first time in the world that a civil union law has passed only for heterosexual couples.

The National Human Rights Committee proposed a registry that would cover both same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual ones.and the Greek group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples.

Test cases

Although there is no official recognition of same-sex couples, a 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between "persons", without specifying gender, acted as a test-case for same sex marriage. On 3 June 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two homosexual couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing the legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which in the past had also opposed the introduction of civil marriage. Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis declared the Tilos marriages "invalid" and Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas warned Mayor Aliferis of the legal repercussions of his "breach of duty", but he said he had "no intention of annulling the marriages".[4][5][6] Nevertheless in May 2009 the marriage was officially annulled by the authorities[7].

Religious opinion

Responding to government proposals in 2008 to introduce legal rights for cohabiting couples, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, suggested that "There is a need to change with the time". It is unclear, however, whether this view applied to same-sex couples, particularly as the Church has previously opposed gay rights in general and civil union laws in particular.[8]

Gay life in Greece

Athens has a big number of LGBT associations and a developing gay village in the Gazi, Athens neighborhood. A gay pride event, the 'Athens Pride' (see below) and an international Gay and Lesbian film festival, the 'Outview', are held annually. There is an emerging gay scene in Thessaloniki with some gay/lesbian bars/clubs and several friendly mixed venues, and one LGBT organisation, organising public discussions.

The gay scene in the island of Myconos and the lesbian scene in Eressos, Lesbos is famous internationally.

Athens Pride

The Athens Pride is an annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride parade and festival held every June (since June 2005) in the center of Athens city, Greece. It has been held 5 times:

  • June 25, 2005
  • June 24, 2006
  • June 23, 2007
  • June 7, 2008
  • June 13, 2009

Discrimination and Protection

Sexual orientation as a non-discrimination category is not included in the Greek constitution. However, legislation protecting against discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation was adopted in early 2005 (Greek law 3304/05), in accordance with the European Union Directive 2000/78.

Degrading phrases and mockery of gays by public and political figures are relatively common in Greece and there are no laws protecting against anti-gay slogans or hate speech.

Public displays of affection are widely frowned upon. The Greek military bars gays from joining its ranks. The powerful Orthodox Church has also denounced homosexuality as a sin and "defect of human nature."[9]


Homosexuals are not allowed to donate blood or become organ, tissue or bone marrow donors in Greece. There is a form that blood donors should fill before donating blood or applying as volunteer organ donors, if donors answer yes in a question regarding them having had a homosexual contact since 1977 they are denied the right to donate blood or become organ donors.


Several issues have been raised about the Greek media regulation authority, or Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) as it is called and its homophobic stance, according to LGBT groups.

  • On November 2003, NCRTV fined one of the largest tv networks in Greece, Mega, with 100,000 Euros [10], partly for having aired a kiss between two male characters of the popular tv show 'Klise ta Matia' (Greek: Κλείσε τα Μάτια). In December 2006, Greece's Council of State, the country's Supreme administrative court, annulled this decision though, ruling that NCRTV's fine was unconstitutional. According to the court, the tv scene reflected an "existing social reality, related to a social group, among many that make up an open and democratic society, whose sexual preferences are not to be condemned".[11] Moreover this was not the first time that a kiss between two male characters was aired in Greek television and the decision was heavily criticised by the Greek media as hypocritical and anachronistic.
  • On December 21, 2004 the NCRTV fined '94 Epikoinonia FM' (Greek: 94 Eπικοινωνία FM), a municipal radio station in Athens, with 5,000 Euros, judging the content of the 'Athens Gay and Lesbian Radio Show' as "degrading" [12], resulting in the station cancelling the show. There is not any kind of radio information about LGBT matters anywhere in Greece since.
  • On September 2005, NCRTV formally enquired another one of Greece's largest tv networks, ANT1 (Antenna), for airing a publicity spot, by a popular chewing gum brand, depicting two women kissing.

Public Opinion

A Eurobarometer survey published in December 2006 showed that 16% of Greeks surveyed support same-sex marriage and 11% recognise same-sex couple's right to adopt. These figures are considerably below the 25-member European Union average of 44% and 33% respectively and place Greece in the lowest ranks of the European Union along with Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.

A Eurobarometer survey published in January 2007 ("Discrimination in the European Union"), showed that 77% of Greeks believe that being gay or lesbian in their country 'tends to be a disadvantage', while the European Union (EU25) average was 55%. 68% of Greeks agree that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is 'widespread' in Greece (EU25: 50%), and 37% that it is more widespread in than 5 years before (EU25: 31%). 84% of Greeks also reported not having any gay or lesbian friends or acquaintances (EU25: 65%).

A survey among Greek MPs, conducted in 2003 and presented by the Hellenic Homosexual Community (EOK), raised the issue of recognising taxation, inheritance and other legal rights to same-sex couples. The results of the survey showed that 41% of parliamentarians surveyed favored granting such rights while 55% were against it. Among PASOK MP's, 55% were favorable, compared to just 27% of New Democracy MPs. The party with the highest MP favorable responses was Synaspismos (67%) while the majority of Communist Party MPs abstained. MPs favorable responses were higher among women, younger and Athenian MPs.

See also


  1. Amnesty
  2. The Constitution of Greece
  5. AFP: First Greek gay marriages spark judicial battle
  6. "Greece sees first gay 'marriage'", BBC News, June 3, 2008. Retrieved on May 7, 2010. 
  9. Template error: argument title is required. 
  10. NCRTV Ref#:371-2003, 11/11/03
  11. Decision 2856/2006, Chamber D (Τμήμα Δ'); To Vima, Article Ref#: B14932A701, 03/12/2006
  12. NCRTV Ref#:408-2004, 21/12/04

External links

  • Athens Pride - The annual Greek LGBT pride parade in Athens
  • Sympraxis - LGBT Association based in Thessaloniki
  • OLKE - LGBT Association based in Athens
  • EOK - LGBT Association based in Athens
  • LOA Lesbian Group of Athens
  • Greek Sapphites - the Greek Sapphites information/communication group
  • SATTE - Transsexuals Association based in Athens
  • Synthesis - LGBT HIV&AIDS Support Group
  • Greek Helsinki Monitor - Minority rights watch group
  • NCHR - National Committee for Human Rights
  • - Greek Gay and Lesbian Community in Germany
  • Man Enough - Community Blog for Greek FTMs
  • FTM Community - Support and Information for Greek FTMs


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