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Greece approves same-sex civil partnership

Some 194 lawmakers in Greece have voted in favor of extending civil partnerships to same-sex couples in a historic move. While failing to legalize same-sex marriage, the bill resolves inheritance and property issues.

The Greek Parliament early Wednesday approved a human rights' bill that provides same-sex couples the opportunity to register their union with the state in the form of a civil partnership.

"This is an important day for human rights," said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the bill was passed, adding that it gives same-sex couples "equal rights in life and death."

The legislation does not allow same-same sex couples to marry or adopt, although it resolves property and inheritance issues.

Some 194 Greek lawmakers voted in favor of the bill in the 300-seat parliament, while 55 voted against.

The Communist party - along with the far-right Golden Dawn party - rejected the legislation, effectively supporting the influential Orthodox Church's staunch opposition to the measures.

"People of the [Orthodox] Church believe in a certain lifestyle," said Archbishop Leronymos. "Anything outside this is a diversion."

In 2008, the European Court of Human Rights declared the 2008 legislation was dictating the terms of Greek civil unions as discriminatory for excluding same-sex couples. Rights for same-sex couples were reportedly removed from the 2008 law due to pressure from the Orthodox Church.

'Oldest story'

Pro-gay rights activists welcomed the decision, although noting that more needed to be done to further LGBTQI rights.

"This is a good start, even though this law doesn't cover everything," Philippos Paganis, a 21-year-old member of the gay rights group Colour Youth, told AP news agency.

The legislation is likely to take effect early next year after it is published in the government's official gazette.

"It's about the oldest story in human relationships. Two people love each other and want to be together but they are constantly faced with hurdles," said Greek Finance Minister EuclidTsakalotos, reported Reuters news agency.

"The Greek state must not stigmatize people," he added.

ls/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)