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Greece: Common Law Marriage

(Apr. 2, 2008) The Greek government's plan to introduce a bill that would grant more rights to unmarried couples recently met with strong opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church and from homosexuals. The bill would place "common law" relationships on the same footing as those based on a civil or a religious ceremony. Unmarried couples would have the right to make their relationship legal through the signing of a notarized contract. The Holy Synod, the Church's governing body, stated that common law relationships are similar to "prostitution" and that adoption of the bill would amount to placement of "a catastrophic bomb" threatening the underpinnings of the moral fabric of Greek society. Homosexuals also criticized the bill on grounds of discrimination, because it appears that it applies only to heterosexual couples. (Row over Greek Unmarried Couples, BBC NEWS, Mar. 18, 2008, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7302433.stm.)