‘We’re not slaves’: Gays, lesbians and trans people fight for equality
Greek women, gays and trans rights activists in the country’s capital Athens are holding their own against the forces of authoritarianism and homophobia to challenge the Greek government’s recent decision to ban the expression of same-sex relationships.
“The constitution says that you can’t be married and you can have sex, but the new law has decided to ban all forms of sexual activity,” said Giorgos Georgiou, a 28-year-old bisexual man who joined the protests outside the Greek parliament on Saturday.
“There are no gay or lesbian couples.
I think that it is wrong to ban gay or lesbians.
The Greek people want to be able to live together, and this is a very important step towards this goal.”
The new law is based on the belief that gay people can lead happy, healthy lives, Georgious added.
“The new act is not against gays or lesbians but against the very idea of homosexuality,” he said.
This is a declaration of war.””
This is a step towards fascism.
This is a declaration of war.”
The Greek government has already banned the public display of same sex couples’ identities, as it seeks to stamp out anti-gay discrimination.
It’s also banning gay men from taking part in public activities, which activists say will severely restrict the right to social gatherings.
“If you’re gay, you’re not allowed to get a job, to join a club or to join other groups,” Georgioun told Al Jazeera.
“If you are gay, the only thing you can do is have sex.”
Georgiou said he and other activists were also protesting against the ban on the right of same gender couples to marry.
“This is the biggest blow for us, because we are not allowed, because this law is already illegal, because the police have already done the same,” he added.
“And it’s not even that the Greek state is discriminating against gay people.
It’s that they are taking away the right that we have to live as we want and to be ourselves.”
Georgian President George Papandreou has said the government is not considering the new legislation, and has promised to uphold the rights of LGBT Greeks to live and work in peace.
The Greek parliament voted on the new laws on Friday, but it failed to pass the bill before a deadline, which meant the vote was nullified.
The law was put to a referendum on Monday, which will determine whether Greeks are allowed to vote on the bill.
Activists and members of the Greek LGBT community are now planning to hold a march on Tuesday to protest against the law.
“We’re going to be here for the march, for the rally and also for the demonstration, to demonstrate that this is not the end of the fight,” Georgios Pantelis, a 27-year old transgender man who was in the parliament for the vote, told Al Jazeeras.
“It’s not a question of whether or not we are going to win the referendum.
It is about the future.”
Al Jazeera’s John Simpson reports from Athens.