LGBT rights in Greece
|LGBT rights in Greece|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1951,
age of consent not equalized
|Gender identity/expression||Yes (sterilisation required for the change of legal gender)|
|Military service||Homosexuality by itself doesn't lead to exemption from conscription. Transvestism is covered under reasons for exemption|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation protection in employment since 2005 (see below)|
|No recognition of same-sex couples (civil unions under consideration since 2010)|
|Adoption||No joint adoption by same-sex couples (under consideration since May 2011)|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Greece may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Greece, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.
- 1 History
- 2 Legal status
- 3 Recognition of same sex couples
- 4 Gay life in Greece
- 5 Discrimination and protection
- 6 Public opinion
- 7 Summary table
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Male homosexual practice was decriminalized in 1951 by the new Criminal Code adopted in 1950. Male prostitution has been legal since May 2006. Lesbians are not mentioned or acknowledged in the Greek Criminal Code. There is one relevant provision in effect to this day in the Criminal Code;
- Article 347 of the Greek Criminal Code; which provides for a higher age of consent of 17, for seducing a male person if the male partner is over 18 and for lesbians and both male/female heterosexuals (regardless of close-in-age or not) and for only close-in-age for male homosexuality, the age of sexual consent is 15.
Recognition of same sex couples
Greece's left party Coalition of the Radical Left, reportedly supports same-sex marriage and Alekos Alavanos, the former leader of Synaspismos, stated that the coalition backed the fight against all kinds of discrimination and supported the free expression of sexual orientation including the legalization of same-sex marriages.
The former government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis New Democracy was opposed to same-sex marriage. While the New Democracy-led government has introduced legislation that offers several rights to unmarried couples, this explicitly includes only different sex couples.
The National Human Rights Committee proposed a registry that would cover both same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual ones and the Greek group OLKE announced its intention to sue Greek municipalities that refuse to marry gay couples.
The Greek government under George Papandreou, leader of Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), was preparing legislation for same-sex registered partnerships. Haris Kastanidis, the current minister for Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, during an interview on Greek Radio Station VIMA 99.5 on 17 September 2010, said: "The ministry of Justice in cooperation with the General Secretariat of Equality has constituted a legislative standing committee that will make the relevant proposals" for same-sex partnerships and that the government's political will is obvious towards this matter. In the Greek newspaper To Vima (10 October 2010) it is mentioned that this committee "was constituted on 29 July 2010 and, according to its members, its work is to make proposals regarding the modernization of Family Law. Until now, matters regarding heterosexual couples have been discussed, while those regarding same-sex couples will be discussed after January 2011".
In November 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in the case "Valianatos and others vs. Greece" and condemned the exemption of same-sex couples from the option of civil unions; the restriction of civil unions solely to opposite-sex couples was thus deemed non-convincing and the Greek state has been obliged to give a 5000 euro compensation to each one of the plaintiffs.
Although there is no official recognition of same-sex couples, a 1982 law that legalized civil marriage between "persons", without specifying gender, acted as a test-case for same sex marriage. On 3 June 2008, the mayor of Tilos, Anastasios Aliferis, married two homosexual couples, two lesbians and two gay men, citing the legal loophole. He was heavily criticized by clergymen of the Church of Greece, which in the past had also opposed the introduction of civil marriage. Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis declared the Tilos marriages "invalid" and Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas warned Mayor Aliferis of the legal repercussions of his "breach of duty", but he said he had "no intention of annulling the marriages". Nevertheless in May 2009 the marriage was officially annulled by the authorities. The couples appealed the annulling and they claim they are willing to take the case even to the European Court of Human Rights, if they don't find justice in Greek courts.
Responding to government proposals in 2008 to introduce legal rights for cohabiting couples, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the leader of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, suggested that "There is a need to change with the time". It is unclear, however, whether this view applied to same-sex couples, particularly as the Church has previously opposed gay rights in general and civil union laws in particular.
Following government talks in November 2013 regarding the legalisation of civil unions for homosexual couples, Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim voiced vehement opposition against it, stating that he holds the right to excommunicate any MPs who will vote for it. Moreover, he added that the bill "legalises the corruption of the human existence and physiology and cements the psychopathological diversion that is homosexuality". Additionally, he mentioned that such movements constitute "significant offenses of public decency" by sending out messages of "perverted sexual behaviours" to young people that "torpedo the foundations of family and society".
Gay life in Greece
Athens has a large number of LGBT associations and a developing gay village in the Gazi, Athens neighborhood. A gay pride event, the 'Athens Pride' and an international Gay and Lesbian film festival, the 'Outview', are held annually. There is also a big gay scene in Thessaloniki with gay/lesbian bars/clubs and several friendly mixed venues, and several LGBT organisations. In June 2012 the city got its own annual pride event (Thessaloniki Pride). One of the most notable events in Thessaloniki, concerning LGBT rights, is the attempt to raise a 20m long banner, urging people to boycott the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, on the towns' most famous landmark, the White Tower. The attempt was quickly stopped by the local police, but the event was advertised in online media.
- 25 June 2005
- 24 June 2006
- 23 June 2007
- 7 June 2008
- 13 June 2009
- 5 June 2010
- 4 June 2011
- 9 June 2012
- 8 June 2013
- 14 June 2014
Thessaloniki staged its annual pride event for the first time in 22–23 June 2012, following Mayor Boutaris's promise to back a public LGBT event in the city. The first Thessaloniki Pride festival enjoyed massive popular support from the city, its periphery and the region, which was a heavy blow for the city's metropolitan Anthimos, who had called believers to react.
One year later, in one of his announcements just a few days before the pride event of 2013, he stated that, the Holy Metropolis of Thessaloniki would once again have to tolerate the sad and unacceptable festival of the homosexuals who want to "celebrate their sickness in a carnival sort of way". He also asked parents to keep their children and themselves away from "such pointless and unnatural celebrations". However, many families were present and the two-day festival ended in a great atmosphere with many parties, galleries and celebrations all around the city. In 2014, vigil masses took place along with gatherings of believers, where priests made an outcry over the "desecration of holy Thessaloniki", the "imposition of Islam and homosexuality by the New World Order, the gay pride events which are part of a Western conspiracy, the "appointment of homosexual male and female bishops and protested over the victory of Conchita Wurst at the Eurovision Song Contest What is more, Metropolitan Anthimos once again made similar comments about it in an interview, deeming it as "disgraceful", "challenging", "a perversion of the human existence", adding that the Church orders to "Not give what is holy to dogs". He also claimed that the use of the term "festival" for the event is erroneous. Still, the 2014 pride event was a major success, with the participation of 6000 people, the town mayor and the American consul.
The festival has been held thrice.
- 22–23 June 2012
- 14–15 June 2013
- 20–21 June 2014
Discrimination and protection
Since 2005, anti-gay discrimination in the workplace is generally prohibited, except the armed forces, although the law does not include gender identity and it does not address discrimination in areas such as banking, public facilities, education, housing and health care. Recently, the ministry of Justice put forward a bill stating that for incidents of racism, xenophobia or homophobia, there will be severe punishment such as removal of one's civil rights.
While there has been considerable legal progress, conservative social mores still hold considerably influence. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples are widely frowned upon and the Orthodox Church has often denounced homosexuality as a sin and "defect of human nature."
Discrimination by media and other supervisory bodies
Several issues have been raised about the Greek media and their frequently discriminatory attitude towards LGBT individuals such as through the use of censorship, something partly attributed to the regulation authority, or Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV). Below is a list of some homophobic/transphobic incidents by the Greek media and other companies and bodies.
- On November 2003, NCRTV fined one of the largest TV networks in Greece, Mega, with 100,000 Euros, partly for having aired a kiss between two male characters of the popular TV show 'Klise ta Matia' (Greek: Κλείσε τα Μάτια). In December 2006, Greece's Council of State, the country's Supreme administrative court, annulled this decision, ruling that NCRTV's fine was unconstitutional. According to the court, the TV scene reflected an "existing social reality, related to a social group, among many that make up an open and democratic society, whose sexual preferences are not to be condemned". Moreover this was not the first time that a kiss between two male characters was aired in Greek television and the decision was heavily criticised by the Greek media as hypocritical and anachronistic.
- On 21 December 2004 the NCRTV fined '94 Epikoinonia FM' (Greek: 94 Eπικοινωνία FM), a municipal radio station in Athens, with 5,000 Euros, judging the content of the 'Athens Gay and Lesbian Radio Show' as "degrading", resulting in the station cancelling the show. There is not any kind of radio information about LGBT matters anywhere in Greece since.
- On September 2005, NCRTV formally enquired another one of Greece's largest TV networks, ANT1 (Antenna), for airing a publicity spot, by a popular chewing gum brand, depicting two women kissing.
- On March 2010, Greek channel Mega was fined for airing the Greek movie "Straight Story," whose plot revolved around the story of a straight man in a fictional world in which homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuality was frowned upon.
- On April and May 2010, the Greek Star Channel was fined for two episodes of its show "Fotis & Maria Live". In both episodes, there were trans guests.
- On January 2011, MAD TV and MTV Greece blurred out two male kiss scenes from the video clips of Katy Perry's "Firework" and Pink's "Raise your Glass".
- Starting from 2012, the terms "gay", "lesbian" and "transvestite" are being bleeped on the episodes of ANT1's comedy series Konstantinou kai Elenis.
- On 15 October 2012, ERT aired the pilot episode of British television series Downton Abbey, cutting out a scene depicting two men kissing. The managing director of ERT, Costas Spyropoulos, cited timing of the programme (aired at 10pm local time) and parental guidelines as reasons for the episode not being aired in full. But after wide protest the episode aired fully a few days later and at an even earlier hour (7pm). Spyroploylos was heavily criticised by media and the general director of state TV, who formally apologised for the censoring.
- On February 2013, the terms "gay" and "lesbian" appear in the form of dots in the subtitles of a foreign programme on MTV Greece, despite the fact that the programme was broadcast late at night.
- On 17 May 2013, one day after the second semi-final of the 2013 Eurovision contest where Krista Siegfrids, representing Finland, performed the song "Marry me" and symbolically kissed a female dancer as a way to push for marriage equality in her country, the Greek gossip TV show "FThis TV" of ANT1 channel blurred the kiss between the two women when showing footage from the contest.
- On June 2013, the NCRTV rejected the request of the 2013 Athens LGBT pride organisers to air the event's TV spot free of charge in all of the major Greek TV channels as it wasn't deemed as a public service message. The NCRTV representatives claimed that their decision was taken on the grounds that there was a scene with two women kissing.
- On July 2013, the term "gay" is translated as "girly" in the subtitles of the comedy series Joey on Star Channel. At the same time, the same channel is criticized for its conservatism and homophobia when it comes to the translation of the series Gossip Girl; following the remarks of the NCRTV regarding the frequency of issues referring to homosexuality, sex and drugs in the show and the channel's unwillingness to move the series to a later hour, a middle solution was found that allowed it to keep the show at the same time but to be much stricter in the translation of words relevant to the aforementioned topics, with the result that terms such as "lesbian" are translated as "tomboy", "not-so-womanly" or "spinster".
- On September 2013, a scene from the popular series Glee showing a lesbian couple kissing on a bed without the portrayal of any nudity was censored by Alpha TV.
- The company running Athens Metro refused to placard posters of the upcoming pride event at metro stations in 2013. In 2014, it once again rejected the request of the Athens pride organisers on the grounds of lack of space for the placement of advertisements.
A survey among Greek MPs, conducted in 2003 and presented by the Hellenic Homosexual Community (EOK), raised the issue of recognising taxation, inheritance and other legal rights to same-sex couples. The results of the survey showed that 41% of parliamentarians surveyed favored granting such rights while 55% were against it. Among PASOK MP's, 55% were favorable, compared to just 27% of New Democracy MPs. The party with the highest MP favorable responses was Synaspismos (67%) while the majority of Communist Party MPs abstained. MPs favorable responses were higher among women, younger and Athenian MPs.
A study among Greek students of the Schools of Health and Welfare professions (social work, nursing & medicine) in Iraklion, Crete published in 2006 surveyed their attitudes towards male homosexuality. Two scales were used and translated into Greek along with several questions that formed a self-completed questionnaire. The main findings showed that there were differences among the schools in terms of homophobic expression and that "the main predictors influencing homophobia score were: willingness to defend and protect gay rights, conversations with gay individuals, religiosity, politicization and having gay friends".
A Eurobarometer survey published in December 2006 showed that 15% of Greeks surveyed supported same-sex marriage and 11% recognised same-sex couple's right to adopt. These figures were considerably below the 25-member European Union average of 44% and 32% respectively and placed Greece in the lowest ranks of the European Union along with Romania, Latvia, Poland, Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria.
A Eurobarometer survey published in January 2007 ("Discrimination in the European Union"), showed that 77% of Greeks believed that being gay or lesbian in their country 'tends to be a disadvantage', while the European Union (EU25) average was 55%. 68% of Greeks agreed that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was 'widespread' in Greece (EU25: 50%), and 37% that it was more widespread in than 5 years before (EU25: 31%). 84% of Greeks also reported not having any gay or lesbian friends or acquaintances (EU25: 65%).
A Kapa Research (major Greek polling firm) survey on behalf of the Greek "Institute of Psychological & Sexual Health" published in the Greek newspaper Ta Nea on 20 September 2010 showed that 63.9% of Greeks agree with the legalization of same-sex partnerships and 24.1% disagree; as for the legalization of same-sex marriage, 38.5% of Greeks agree and 51.8% disagree.
In June 2013 The Pew Research Center released data where they conducted surveys of respondents in some 40 countries on the question of whether the respondents believed their society should or should not accept homosexuality. Pew Research questioners scientifically asked respondents in Greece this question and found that amongst those asked, a majority 53% of those Greek respondents believed their society should accept homosexuality, while 40% of the respondents believed that society should not accept homosexuality. Amongst those Greeks surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 years of age support for society accepting homosexuality was at a higher 66% than the overall 53%. For those respondents aged 30 to 49 support was too at a higher 62%, but a lower 40% for those respondents 50 years and older.
It is reported that, following the rise of the neo-nazi far right party Golden Dawn, homophobic and transphobic incidents have multiplied. Apart from homophobic comments by the party such as the theory that gay men lack manliness, their calling the German minister Guido Westerwelle "Madam" because of his being openly gay  etc., the party also actively urges its supporters to not accept homosexuality. A very infamous statement by the party addressed to gay men and women is "After the immigrants, you're next". Golden Dawn's homophobic opinions have given way to a sharp increase in homophobic attacks, whereas allegations that members of the Greek police force cooperate with Golden Dawn members  may explain why several trans women were recently arrested during the Thessaloniki pride for no reason by the police, bruttally attacked and illegally detained on the grounds of "keeping the city clean".
|Age of consent equalized|
|Homosexuals allowed to serve in the military|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment|
|Right to change legal gender (after sterilisation)|
|Anti-discrimination laws covering gender identity in all areas|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
|Same-sex marriage legal/recognised|
|Civil unions for same-sex couples|
|Adoption by couples of the same sex|
|Assisted reproduction for lesbian couples|
|Gay conversion therapies banned|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LGBT in Greece.|
- Athens Pride – The annual LGBT pride festival in Athens
- Thessaloniki Pride – The annual LGBT pride festival in Thessaloniki
- LOA Lesbian Group of Athens
- Greek Sapphites – the Greek Sapphites information/communication group
- Sympraxis – LGBT Association based in Thessaloniki
- Synthesis – LGBT HIV&AIDS Support Group
- Greek Helsinki Monitor – Minority rights watch group
- NCHR – National Committee for Human Rights
- ERMIS – Greek Gay and Lesbian Community in Germany
- FTM Community – Support and Information for Greek FTMs
- Thessaloniki Pride 2012 – Images from the 1st Thessaloniki Pride