Gay rights protesters have gathered outside Greece's parliament after the government said it would delay legislation allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, despite a recent European court ruling against the country on the issue.

About 500 people joined the peaceful protest in central Athens Friday, held while lawmakers prepared to vote on an anti-racism bill.

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said civil partnerships had been left out of the legislation because further study was needed on how the partnerships would affect the tax and social insurance system as well as family law.

Last November, the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights ruled that Greek legislation was discriminatory, and ordered the country to pay damages to four gay couples who took the case to the court in Strasbourg, France.