GAYS AND LESBIANS IN GREECE SPEAK UP

14 April 2003

The time has come for Greek society to finally listen to those organizations that, in the face of difficulty, advocate the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.

Lately, narrow-minded, provincial, bigoted police officers, journalists and priests have devoted themselves to a sweeping attack against the sexual freedom of Greek citizens, with every means at their disposal. Words such as immorality, orgies, perversion, and excesses are used to characterize any expression of diversity and any deviation from the conventional model of sexual behavior as they themselves deem fit to define or interpret it.

The motivation for this joint complaint is our outrage over the incident that took place at the SPICES Club in the early hours of Friday, 21 February 2003. On this date a group of police officers raided the club in a vice operation reminiscent of eras that even the most reactionary minds of the Hellenic Police should have forgotten. They proceeded to terrorize the club's patrons and arrested six individuals. This incident and the auxiliary arrest of another six persons in their homes provided the Greek media with the ammunition to launch a vulgar attack on all homosexuals and our gathering places, and to directly associate these bars and clubs with pederasty, pedophilia, child pornography, prostitution, and drugs.

During all this hysteria and psychological abuse, one of the detainees committed suicide in the appalling holding facilities at the General Police Directorate of Attica (GADA).

We denounce the police raid, during which no evidence was found relating to any pedophilia activity.

We denounce the police for the arbitrarily racist and homophobic mentality, as evidenced in the Press Bulletin, issued 23 February 2003, which cites: "pandering," "solicitation," "facilitation of promiscuity of others " juvenile pornography indecent behavior, possession of narcotics for personal use and provision of space for the use of narcotic substances, unnatural licentiousness for profit," and the discovery of "indecent printed matter."

In issuing a Press Release containing the full names, ages and occupations of the accused, the police have contravened the law in force and committed an illegal act (decision 67-1047/ 12-6-2002 of the Personal Data Protection Authority).  We look forward to the prompt reply of Hellenic Police the question tabled by the Greek Ombudsman.

We denounce the vulgar statements in the Greek press and by guest journalists who did not hasten (as was their duty) to reinstate the order of dialogue to this deplorable slander. This is incompatible with the code of journalistic ethics put forth by their professional union, concerning the discrimination of persons or groups of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation.

We demand the immediate repeal of the racist/homophobic article 347 of the Criminal Law, which describes homosexuality in offensive terms. This law sanctions discrimination in the matter of age of consent (17 years of age for male homosexuals as opposed to 15 for females), and criminalizes prostitution among men, only. Law 2734/99 refers instead to "prostituted persons". 

Amnesty International has criticized the prejudicial treatment of homosexuals and has written to the Justice Minister requesting the article's repeal.

Those organizations, whose argumentation on the draft law 3064/2002 to combat trafficking in human beings objected to the Public Order Minister's proposal to repeal 347, are now called upon to bear the onus of their actions.

We condemn the television channels ALTER and STAR for their respective programs, "Fyllo kai Ftero" (Paper and Plume) and "Super Star," when such programs intentionally and maliciously present events by way of vague, unsubstantiated, and anonymous accusations, and do so with the aim of increasing their audience. They present a totally false picture of homosexuals and their places of entertainment as a threat to public law and order. We intend to initiate sanction procedures against these particular programs through the National Radio and Television Council (ESR).

Trafficking in child pornography, sexual abuse, and exploitation are crimes that are not ipso facto linked to sexual orientation. In fact, international statistics show that these crimes are more frequently attributed to heterosexual orientation and often occur within the family.

We believe that vice operations such as these are not the decisions of one police department. It seems that the reforms of the Simitis government stop when it comes to homosexuals.

We denounce the Health Ministry's Center for Disease Control for its indifference to the serious problems faced by homosexuals infected by the HIV/AIDS virus, and for their wholesale disregard of any proposal concerning health protection in male prostitution.

We denounce the brutality of police officers towards transvestites during nighttime raids, which are accompanied by violence and ill treatment.

We denounce the derision and contempt that police officers show when they encounter homosexuals during their patrols of outdoor areas (parks, etc).

We demand the modification of the antiracism law 927/79 to include sexual orientation.

We call on the Greek State to adapt its legislation to comply with the standards set in article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty, and to provide civil protection for homosexuals as defined in EU directives and in article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This includes the right of legal union.

In today�s Greece, the Middle Ages, Nazism and Stalinism have given way to a new perception of the sex lives of European citizens. All persons are free to live and to use their bodies, as they deem fit, without the intervention of a society that arbitrarily labels individuals and categorizes them accordingly. The notions of �normal� and "abnormal" may not directly relate to coercion, violence, and the exploitation of human beings, but they are arbitrary definitions that are utterly foreign to nature itself.

The number one problem that homosexuals have where their sexuality is concerned is their awareness of the oppression they suffer. The fundamental way that this oppression works is by unofficially but very effectively suppressing their right to a voice.

We denounce the intolerance found in the family, the educational system, the media, acquaintanceships, sexual relationships, the workplace, and in society overall.

We believe that true liberation means doing away with the roles that society casts for its individual members.

We call upon all political parties and movements, trade unions, the Union of Athens Daily Newspaper Journalists (ESIEA), and citizens groups to take a stand on the issue of the right of sexual freedom.

We gays and lesbians must protest this homophobic attack, openly and with pride! We are not alone. We are a part of a world movement fighting against oppression and exploitation. In Florence, Italy, hundreds of homosexuals organized debates during the European Social Forum, and marched under their own banner in the recent anti-war demonstration.

The system that generates oppression and war, like the one in Iraq, is what is sick and abnormal. Not us!

We will not tolerate discrimination from the society in which we live, and we condemn such discrimination whenever and wherever we encounter it

We are part of the Greece to come. 

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