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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 07
Greece: Same-sex Valentine's ads provoke controversy
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Greece: Same-sex Valentine's ads provoke controversy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Valentine's Day ads for the popular Greek chocolate brand Lacta sparked controversy by depicting same-sex and biracial couples posing in affectionate embrace with Lacta chocolate bars.

The ad campaign, photographed by Chloe Kritharas Devienne, featured 28 couples, some of them same-sex ones. Depictions of same-sex couples were used only in the company's online advertising. Billboards and print ads featured only opposite-sex couples.

According to Reuters, the Valentine's Day ads for the brand were the first to feature same-sex and interracial couples in Greece, a country where the ultra-conservative Greek Orthodox Church actively campaigns against LGBT rights, and same-sex couples cannot marry or adopt children.

Kritharas Devienne saw working for Lacta - made by the world's second-largest confectioner, Mondelez International - as a chance to change minds in an environment where depictions of same-sex love are still taboo.

'In Greece people are very, very homophobic,' she said. 'The church has made it very clear it considers homosexuality a sin.'

'Personally, I love both men and women,' she explained. 'I thought that nothing would make me happier than to have these pictures all over Athens so that all these homophobic people are forced to look at them... It's been the number one subject in Greece.

'I know it has been all over the internet, but not everyone will have the internet,' she said with disappointment. 'My goal was to see these couples all over Athens.'

While Lacta urged Facebook users to 'embrace all tastes of love,' hundreds of anti-LGBT comments accumulated on its Facebook page.

'You must be ashamed of yourself,' one said. Another commenter wrote, 'Little children will see this! What standards will you pass to them I would like to know.'

Kritharas Devienne was also targeted for abuse.

'People were tweeting pictures of my face, saying, 'This is the photographer who did this,' she told Reuters. Critics also posted links to her other photographic work documenting refugees in order to portray her as a leftist.

Homophobic attacks by neo-Nazi gangs are not uncommon in Greece, where same-sex civil partnerships were only legalized in 2015 amid protests from right-wing parties and the church.

Recently, Greek Orthodox Bishop Amvrosios was convicted of incitement to violence and abuse of power for urging Greeks to 'spit on' Gay people.

In India, by contrast, a Valentine's Day ad on Facebook for Big Basket chocolate, the country's biggest online retailer, showed a young Lesbian couple kissing and holding hands.

'The reactions have been pretty overwhelming, and people were pleased that I was playing something different,' said Shatabdi Chakraborty, who played one of the lovers.

Same- sex relations were legalized by India's Supreme Court in September 2018, after several years of litigation.

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