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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 26 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 39
Greek Gays organize against violence
Section One
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Greek Gays organize against violence

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Greece's Gay community is organizing against a wave of recent Gay-bashings in the capital, Athens, and several other cities, according to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

In April, the LGBT rights organization Color Youth launched a website, www.pestosemas.com, where victims of attacks can report their experiences. 'Pesto se mas' means 'tell it to us.'

The site is funded by the EEA (European Economic Area) Grants program 'We are all Citizens' which encourages public participation by socially marginalized groups in Europe.

'We are also preparing an initiative to inform [groups such as ours] on how to work with victims in [the cities of] Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Patras, and Iraklio, while we hope to use part of the funding we've received to cover the legal costs in at least 10 cases that have gone to court,' explained Constantinos Pantikiou, head of human resources and fundraising at Color Youth.

'We encourage victims to report attacks but we also understand their reluctance, as any publicity could have an impact on their personal and private lives at a time when they are vulnerable,' Pantikiou said.

The website already has dozens of entries, he added.

'The people who write to us are mainly teenagers and young people who became victims of domestic violence after coming out at home,' Pantikiou said. 'Violence can be in the form of a beating or the cessation of financial assistance or even eviction from the family home.'

The biggest problem in terms of the law, he added, is that victims cannot file legal complaints if the violence comes from a parent.



Another organization, the Racist Violence Recording Network, founded to document attacks against immigrants, also records Gay-bashings.

In 2013, the Network compiled some 20-30 reports of homophobic attacks, some in busy and fashionable parts of central Athens like Gazi, Exarchia and Panepistimiou metro station, and some in other cities - Ioannina, Alexandroupoli, Komotini, and especially in Thessaloniki.

'Just a few years ago Gazi was extremely hospitable to the gay community,' Pantikiou noted. The neighborhood is home to many nightclubs and music venues.



One story from a couple who were attacked in Gazi is typical.

A 20-year-old man, identified only as ST, was walking with his boyfriend and their friends to the train station. Suddenly they were confronted by another group of young people about their age.

'You're in for it, you faggots!' one of the young men in the other group yelled.

'It was one of the guys in the group who launched the attack,' ST told Kathimerini.

ST was knocked to the ground and suffered injuries to one eye.

'One of his friends tried to stop him, but the other two guys, as well as the girlfriend of one of them, were egging him on. The more I think about it, the more I am shocked by the girl's attitude. Isn't she worried that her boyfriend's violence may not always be restricted to strangers? When I managed to open my good eye I saw him dragging my boyfriend by the hair through a pool of blood.'

ST and his friends called the police after being attacked.

'We waited two-and-a-half hours with three of us taking turns to call every half-hour,' said ST. 'If they had come sooner they would have caught the assailant. He stood there admiring his work for quite a while.'



Unfortunately, the lax police response is also typical.

Many Greeks say the police are allied with the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, whose supporters are blamed for most of the attacks on Gay Greeks, as well as on non-Greek immigrants. In at least one recent case, police officers themselves beat a Gay couple.

While Golden Dawn is now the third-largest political party in Greece, it has been losing support among young people since one of its members murdered the popular rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013.

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