Journal Article - Case Comment
Civil unions - exclusion of same-sex couples.
E.H.R.L.R. 2014, 2, 179-184 [European Human Rights Law Review] Publication Date: 2014 Subject: Family law. Other related subjects: Human rights Keywords: Civil partnerships; Greece; Right to respect for private and family life; Same sex partners; Sexual orientation discrimination Abstract: Comments on the European Court of Human Rights decision in Vallianatos v Greece (29381/09) on whether a Greek law affording legal recognition to civil unions between unmarried heterosexual couples but not same sex couples breached the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 arts 8 and 14. Notes that the court did not assess ...view middle of the document...
The seventh and eighth applicants were in a relationship but for professional and social reasons they did not live together, although the eighth applicant did pay the seventh applicant’s social-security contributions. The ninth applicant was "Synthessi —Information Awareness-raising and Research", a not-for-profit organisation whose aims included providing psychological and moral support to gay men and lesbians. In November 2008, Greek Law No.3719/2008 entitled "Reforms concerning the family, children and society" entered into force and introduced civil unions as an alternative form of officially recognised partnership to marriage. Section 1 of the law stated that only two different-sex adults could enter into a civil union. The law dealt with various aspects of entering into a civil union including financial relations (s.6), maintenance obligations after dissolution of a civil union (s.7), presumption of paternity (s.8), parental responsibility (s.10) and inheritance rights (s.11). The explanatory report on Law No.3719/2008 stated that it was intended to address cohabitation outside of marriage and to allow people to register their relationship within a more flexible legal framework than *E.H.R.L.R. 180 marriage. The report stated that 5 per cent of children born in Greece were born to couples living in de facto partnerships and that women who were left without support after long periods of cohabitation and single-parent families generally were major issues in Greece that required a legislative response. The report noted that civil unions would only be available to different-sex adults but did not elaborate on the reasons for this. Under Greek law, the state is liable in tort for unlawful acts or omissions, including acts which are not in principle enforceable through the courts. The only condition for the admissibility of a claim for damages against the state is that the act or omission in question is unlawful. Nevertheless, the applicants did not challenge the compatibility of Law No.3719/2008 with arts 8 and 14 before the Greek national courts. The applicants complained that by excluding same-sex couples from entering into civil unions, the respondent State had breached their rights under art.14 taken in conjunction with art.8. The applicants also alleged that the respondent State had breached art.13 because there was no effective remedy available to them in the domestic courts. On September 11, 2012 a Chamber of the Court relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.
The complaints under art.14 taken in conjunction with art.8 in respect of the first eight applicants were
admissible (by a majority) and the remainder of the applications were inadmissible. The Court rejected the respondent State’s argument that the first eight applicants were not victims within the meaning of art.34. They were individuals of full age who were in same-sex relationships and in some cases cohabited. As a result of the scope of...