Toronto
2 min

A lover scorned

Family cut him off when his partner died

After Mihalis Papadopoulis’ lover, Louie Kokoros died, Papadopoulis was shunned by his partner’s family and by the Canadian legal system.



“I didn’t get any time to grieve. I was totally ignored. At the funeral aunts and uncles he didn’t know got sympathy, I got nothing. I was allowed to file past the coffin like everybody else.”



Papadopoulis, a certified teacher and Eastern Orthodox priest from St Louis, met Torontonian Louie Kokoros on-line in October of 1997. Papadopoulis then moved in with Kokoros who died Dec 9 last year of complications resulting from his hemophilia and the HIV and hepatitis C he contracted from tainted blood in the early ’80s.



Papadopoulis says that Stella, Kokoros’ sister who retains her brother’s power of attorney was embarrassed by the fact that her brother was gay and that she went to great lengths to keep the secret.



“When Louie was in the hospital, Stella told me that she wouldn’t allow me into his room because our relationship was too embarrassing and that she didn’t want to explain it to the family.”



When Kokoros died, his family never told Papadopoulis. He found out when he called the hospital to check up on him. Papadopoulis says that Stella even tried to stop him from seeing Kokoros when he was dead.



Another problem was that Kokoros never filed a will, but Papadopoulis says he saw one before Kokoros died.



“She claimed under oath that there was no will to save embarrassment so that her family and relatives don’t find out about Louie and I. Louie showed me a will.”



Papadopoulis also needed to get a copy of Kokoros’ long form death certificate (the version that is public record doesn’t include cause of death) to get his survivor benefits and to be a part of the class action suit against the government for tainted blood, of which he and Michael would be a part.



But Papadopoulis couldn’t get a copy of the certificate because he isn’t Kokoros’ next of kin and because he signed over power of attorney to Stella. Papadopoulis says she tricked him into it because he was heavily sedated on morphine at the time.



Papadopoulis also wants to receive spousal benefits.



“I just want recognition of what we had. I think it’s an insult to him and our relationship that our relationship isn’t respected.”



But there are a number of problems.



In order for Papadopoulis to claim spousal benefits he had to have lived with Kokoros for at least three years; they were only together for two.



Provincially in order to be considered in a common-law relationship the couple has to live together for three years, federally it’s one year. And it’s the provincial government that issues death and marriage certificates.



“It’s a big inconsistency that our relationships are recognized at the federal level after one year but under Ontario’s provincial laws its three years,” says lawyer Michael Battista, who has given legal counsel to Papadopoulis and Kokoros in the past.



“On the one hand, prohibiting same-sex marriage and on the other hand, making us go through hoops before our relationships are recognized is blatantly discriminatory,” says Battista. “Heterosexual couples can get married whenever.”



Stella Kokoros would not talk to Xtra.