Gay rights campaigners in Greece have welcomed a decision by a European court condemning the country for failing to include same-sex couples in 2008 legislation that introduced civil partnerships.

A panel of judges at the Council of Europe's Court of Human rights, ruled Thursday that the legislation was discriminatory and ordered the state to pay plaintiffs €5,000 euros ($6,670) each in damages as well as an additional amount for court costs.

The civil partnerships are favored by couples seeking legal rights outside marriage or who are deterred by lengthy divorce procedures in marriage.

Grigoris Vallianatos, a prominent gay rights campaigner who led the legal action, described the ruling as a "landmark decision" for gays in Greece, and the most important legal victory in 30 years.