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World in Brief / GREECE

Two gay couples wed on island

June 04, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

The mayor of a tiny Aegean Sea island was charged with breach of duty after conducting Greece's first same-sex marriage ceremonies in defiance of a prosecutor's order designating such nuptials as illegal.

Mayor Tasos Aliferis of Tilos held the civil ceremonies for a gay couple and a lesbian couple shortly after dawn, provoking the wrath of conservative church officials and the country's justice minister.

"This is a huge step forward for human rights in Greece," said Evangelia Vlami, one of the newlyweds. "It is a very important day for us."

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said the two marriages were illegal and invalid. Both couples sought to take advantage of a loophole in a 26-year-old law that does not specify gender in civil weddings.

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