Despite being not recognised by government and almost certainly annulled, today is a pretty historic day for LGBT community in Greece, as BBC reports that the mayor of a Greek island Tilos has defied the threat of prosecution and carried out the country's first gay marriages. This will certainly have a significant impact on gay rights movement in Greece and will trigger changes in legislation to make it comparable with some other EU countries. Even if unrecognised now, these marriages will pave the way for future civil recognition of same-sex couples in Greece .
Two men and two women were "married" by Tassos Alfieris in the ceremonies on the eastern Aegean island of Tilos.
Mr Alfieris conducted the proceedings despite Greece's top prosecutor having issued a directive saying that same-sex weddings were outlawed.
One of the women involved, Evangelia Vlami, was bubbling with excitement as she told the BBC she was "so happy".
"From this day, discrimination against gays in Greece is on the decline. We did this to encourage other gay people to take a stand," she said after the ceremony held at sunrise on Tuesday.
However, the weddings are bound to cause a huge backlash in Greece, says the BBC's Athens correspondent Malcolm Brabant.
Although homosexual practices were widely tolerated in ancient Greece, the modern nation is exceedingly hostile towards gays, he adds.
The conservative Greek Orthodox Church has expressed strong objections, and the country's Justice Minister, Sotiris Hatzigakis, said he believed gay marriages were illegal.
"If the Tilos mayor proceeds, he will have committed the criminal act of 'breach of duty'," Supreme Court prosecutor George Sanidas warned on Friday.
"We will go ahead despite the difficulties," retorted Mr Alfieris. "I still can't believe that someone would be prosecuted for defending human rights."
However, leaders of other municipalities who had previously considered officiating at gay weddings have backed down.
And while Ms Vlami was prepared to be identified, her partner was not.
Similarly, only one half of the male partnership, Dimitris Tsaibrounis, was happy to be named.
As expected, 365Gay.com reports that the authorities in Greece moved to annul these same-sex marriages.
(Athens) The Greek government moved Tuesday to annul the marriages of two same-sex couples after the weddings were performed by the mayor of the island of Tilos.
Supreme Court Prosecutor Giorgos Sanides said he would ask the high court to declare the marriages illegal.
Tilos falls under the jurisdiction of the island of Rhodes. The prosecutor there has charged Mayor Tasos Aliferis with breach of duty for conducting the marriages.
Aliferis performed the wedding for a lesbian couple on Monday and a gay couple on Tuesday.
Hundreds of friends of the couples turned out for the ceremonies, as did dozens of curious townsfolk and the media.
The LGBT rights group OLKE said earlier this year it had found a loophole in a 26 year old update of the Greek civil marriage law that refers only to participating "persons," without specifying gender.
OLKE said that by not naming gender the law, albeit inadvertently, allows same-sex marriage and the group began the search for a mayor who would agree with them and perform the first ceremony.
Sanides disagrees with OKKE's assessment of the law. He maintains the law limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.
The Greek Orthodox Church s traditionally staunchly opposed to granting gays legal rights, and the idea of common-law unions. But its leader, Archbishop Ieronymos, who was enthroned earlier this year has been silent on the issue of marriage.
The government recently introduced civil partnership legislation that would grant legal rights to unmarried couples, but the bill specifically excludes same-sex couples.
Gays and lesbians have some legal protections under Greek law - mainly in the areas of employment and housing.
The issue of whether the vagueness of the current law on marriage allows same-sex couples to marry has divided Greek legal experts, although most believe that without a specific definition of what constitutes a couple the court will likely deny the government application to annual the weddings.
*photo - via BBC