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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 27 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 26
Pride in Greece: Thousands march in Athens and Thessaloniki
Section One
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Pride in Greece: Thousands march in Athens and Thessaloniki

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer- Thousands of people joined Pride Parades in Greeces two major cities, Athens and Thessaloniki.

The tenth annual Athens Pride Parade started at Klafthmonos Square in central Athens and proceeded several blocks to Syntagma Square in front of the Greek parliament building.

Titled A Family Affair, the march was intended to dramatize demands for legal recognition for LGBT families.

This year, we focus on the concepts of equality and freedom of choice from the perspective of family life as defined by every LGBT person, and specifically on the legal recognition of all LGBT families, the organizers said.

The Greek state continues to deprive us of this right. They deny us our rights even after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on November 7, 2013, according to which Greece had violated the European Convention on Human Rights, excluding same-sex couples from civil unions. Equal access to family law is a fundamental requirement for a modern democracy. Excluding citizens from civil unions, marriage, procreation and adoption on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, means the essential and selective exclusion from state protection and deprivation of the security it provides. As a result it shakes the stability of ones personal life, while it burdens their everyday life both emotionally and financially.

Greek laws allow civil unions, but have no specific provisions for same-sex couples, and the first known same-sex civil marriage held in 2008 was annulled by a court a year later.

The case brought Greece before the European Court of Human Rights, which condemned the Greek government in 2013 for creating a life partner legal category excluding Gays.

The theme was echoed by colorful banners carried in the parade.

Yesterday in the closet, today on the streets, tomorrow with our children, read a banner carried by one group.

Motherhood has no sexual orientation, said another.

Athens Pride was supported by several foreign embassies, including the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.

Thessaloniki
Meanwhile Thessaloniki, Greeces second-largest city, celebrated its third Pride weekend.

Police said 6,000 people marched in the Thessaloniki Pride parade on June 21 - up from only 400 people in its first year in 2012.

Also taking part were the consuls of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Portugal who marched behind a banner that was carried by U.S. Consul Robert P. Sanders that read Diplomats for Thessaloniki Pride.

In 2012 counter-protestors attacked marchers, pelting them with eggs and plastic bottles, but this year the march was protected by a heavy police presence and had the blessing of Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris who also marched in the parade.

Orthodox bishops split on LGBT rights
About 300 Greek Orthodox faithful staged a counter-protest in front of a church in central Thessaloniki. Earlier this year, anti-Gay groups affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church gathered 19,500 signatures for a petition to ban Pride altogether.

Thessalonikis Orthodox Bishop Anthimos has been a vocal critic of the event since its inception and this year he dubbed the march a perversion of human existence.

Do not give dogs what is holy, the Bishop said, quoting the gospel of Matthew.

Anthimos probably represents the majority view among Greek bishops, but Archbishop Hieronymos, who beat out Anthimos in a 2008 election for Archbishop of Athens, took a much different view.

When a socialist mayor married one Gay and one Lesbian couple on the island of Tenedos in 2008, the newly elected head of the Greek Orthodox Church shrugged it off.

They werent members of the church, and they didnt get married in a church, Hieronymos said, so the church has nothing to say about it. You have to change with the times.

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