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'Love wins' say Greek lesbian couple as they wed at last

By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) -A calendar reminder shone up on Danai Deligeorges’ phone on Thursday evening: "Wedding", the message said. She turned, smiling, to her partner Alexia Beziki. "Are you ready?" Beziki asked, before the couple kissed and started to prepare.

That night, Deligeorges and Beziki became one of the first lesbian couples in Greece to get married after parliament passed a landmark bill allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot.

The historic vote, which also gives LGBT couples the right to adopt children, came after decades of campaigning by the LGBT community for marriage equality in the socially conservative country where the Orthodox Church has long held sway.

"Now we're able to confirm with a statement that: You know what? You weren't doing all these things for nothing," said Deligeorges before the ceremony. "So, love wins."

Athens mayor Haris Doukas married the couple in a low-key ceremony in central Athens attended by dozens of friends and relatives. The room in a government building erupted in applause when the couple said their vows and hugged. Deligeorges began to cry.

"Congratulations to this country," the couple said.

Deligeorges proposed to Beziki in 2022 when marriage for them was forbidden. Last month, Beziki gave birth, but under law Deligeorges was not recognised as a legal guardian.

The Feb. 15 parliament vote changed all that.

"It was a victory also for all the people who believe that all individuals should be seen for what they choose," said Beziki, a 43-year-old actress.

The law has not come without opposition. The Orthodox Church, which believes homosexuality is a sin, is vehemently opposed. The first gay wedding took place in Athens last week under police watch after the couple received threats.

Many in the LGBT community believe the law does not go far enough. It does not allow LGBT couples to use assisted reproduction methods. Surrogate pregnancies will also not be extended to LGBT individuals.

Still, mayor Doukas said progress has been made.

"It is our duty to safeguard that every citizen of Athens has the freedom and the right to live and love as they desire," he told Reuters after the ceremony.

Beziki and Deligeorges were overjoyed. Deligeorges said she hadn't felt this good since Greece's surprise win at the European football championship in 2004.

"We are finally seen," said Beziki.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Edward McAllister and Hugh Lawson)