[JURIST] The Greek Minister of Justice Tuesday quickly condemned as legally "non-existent" the first same-sex marriages performed in the country by the mayor of a small Greek island. Sotiris Hatzigakis [official profile] said in a statement that Tilos Mayor Anastassios Alferis had overstepped his authority. The ceremonies united two gay and lesbian couples despite preliminary warnings from top Greek prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas that such marriages are not permissible under Article 21 [text] of the Greek constitution and that charges would be brought if the mayor allowed the wedding. Alferis has refused to nullify the marriages, which Greek gay rights activists insist are valid because of language in the 1982 Greek civil marriage law [PDF text, in Greek; Greek marriage backgrounder] simply saying that marriages must be between two "persons" without specifying that one party must be a man and the other a woman. Greek gay rights organization OLKE [advocacy website, in Greek] has vowed to defend the marriages. AFP has more.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice established a group [JURIST report] to investigate recognizing same-sex marriages after the Greek National Commission for Human Rights [official website, in Greek] proposed legislation to allow same-sex marriage, but no further action has been taken in Greece on the national level. The influential Greek Orthodox Church [official website, in Greek] is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.