Greece acknowledged the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Monday. High ranking Greek officials including the President and the Prime Minister raised awareness to the important day.
The first International Day Against Homophobia was held on May 17, 2005. The specific date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the day the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990.
Greece commemorates Day Against Homophobia
The President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, met with a group of LGBTQ+ individuals to discuss recent progress towards eradicating discrimination on the basis of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Sakellaropoulou met with the president of the National Strategy Committee for Equality of LGBTQI+ Individuals Alexandros Sicilianou. Also present was Professor of Civil Law at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and member of the community Katerina Fountedaki, and the president of the “Rainbow Families” Organization, Stella Belia.
The president stated “In recent years, Greek society has made remarkable progress in terms of combating prejudice, stigmatization and marginalization of its LGBTQI + members.
“Today it is the turn of the Greek State to proceed, with determination and efficiency, to remove any discrimination that undermines the principle of equality or restricts the rights of citizens due to their gender identity, gender characteristics or sexual orientation. It is also necessary to take special care for the discriminatory treatment in schools, as well as the protection of children from LGBTQI + families from stigma.”
The Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, also acknowledged the day on Monday. In a message posted on his Twitter feed, he condemned homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, which still runs rampant in Greece.
“Greece in the 21st century welcomes the day against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia by fighting to eradicate the sad reasons that caused it to be established. We do this with horizontal legislative measures in the workplace and every sector of public life. With initiatives such as shaping a National Strategy for LGBTQI+ equality. But also with behaviours that overcome stereotypes and promote creative coexistence.”
In his message, he stressed that modern democracies such as Greece should not tolerate discrimination based on any characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
A tweet from Mitsotakis on the issue is shown below:
Η Ελλάδα του 21ου αιώνα υποδέχεται την Ημέρα κατά της Ομοφοβίας, Αμφιφοβίας και Τρανσφοβίας, αγωνιζόμενη να εκλείψουν οι θλιβερές αιτίες που την καθιέρωσαν. Η Πολιτεία μας οφείλει να προστατεύει τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα σε κάθε τους έκφανση. #IDAHOT2021 https://t.co/DvvVMhtt2M pic.twitter.com/cpiflMHeiX
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) May 17, 2021
LGBTQI+ rights in Greece
Despite these shows of support, Greece continues to have a long way to go in order to embody the principles of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
Despite recent success stories, such as the legalisation civil unions for same-sex couples in 2015, the LGBTQI+ community in Greece still faces discrimination. The murder of queer activist Zackie Oh in 2018 continues to haunt LGBTQI+ individuals in the country.
The Rainbow Families Organization, whose president Sakellaropoulou met with Monday, works to help Greek members of the LGBTQI+ community become parents. This organization is crucial in Greece, where same-sex couples are not allowed joint adoption, access to IVF for lesbian couples is denied, and altruistic surrogacy is only allowed for heterosexual couples or single women – not gay couples.