Greece marginalising gays, Roma, migrants – report

Greece needs to work harder to combat intolerance of its LGBTI and Roma communities as well as migrants, the Council of Europe said in a report Thursday.

Despite a government plan to improve inclusion by 2025, the report found that Greece’s LGBTI community continues to face intolerance and discrimination — with even teachers making homophobic remarks in schools, said the report by the council’s commission against racism and intolerance (ECRI).

“The ECRI delegation heard shocking testimonies about some teachers’ statements to intersex pupils,” the report said, pointing to one youth study that found the situation in Greek schools “deplorable”.

“The stance and perception of Greek society towards intersex people moves between ignorance, (medical) pathologisation and hostility,” the report said.

The commission said it had “credible accounts” of doctors advising the abortion of unborn intersex children.

Homophobic attacks are not uncommon in Greece where the powerful Greek Orthodox Church officially disapproves of homosexual relations.

The ECRI called for special training for teachers, doctors and other professionals to combat intolerance, and for public opinion campaigns to target negative attitudes towards Roma and migrants.

Greek authorities recorded 164 cases of hate crime in 2018, up a quarter on the previous year, the report said.

But just four cases resulted in convictions in 2018, with only six the previous year.

The UN-backed Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) recorded 521 incidents of racist violence from 2016 to 2020, the ECRI added. 

“A comprehensive monitoring system for hate speech incidents, including online, should be established, accompanied by public awareness campaigns,” the report said.

It added that despite specific police training, specialised prosecutors and a 24-hour hotline, there was “little systematic gathering” of hate speech data by police.

The commission also noted that the Greek ombudsman’s office, the sole organisation promoting equality across the board in Greece, did not have legal powers to bring discrimination cases to court.

“ECRI therefore recommends as a matter of priority that the authorities strengthen the support and litigation function of the Greek ombudsman,” the report said.

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