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Greece: Authorities’ continued harassment of trans women draws condemnation

'Thugs' feel they can harass people who don't fit traditional gender appearances: European parliament member

Reports out of Greece say police continue to systematically target transgender women for harassment and detention in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki.

According to an Athens-based blog called Second Council House, there have been daily raids in Thessaloniki. A post authored by Mhairi McAlpine titled "And Then They Came for the Trans* People" alleges that authorities, under the pretext of checking whether people are involved in the sex trade, have been rounding up and arresting transgender people over the past week. "Their details are taken and they are detained for several hours. On release they are warned that if they did not 'return to normal' they would be arrested for public indecency," McAlpine writes.

McAlpine continues, "This is not the first time that trans people have been targeted in Greece, in August last year, 25 trans women were arrested and force (sic) to undergo HIV testing and charged with prostitution offenses, in April, finally, the last of this group was acquitted.  This is however a new and sustained campaign against trans people, some of whom were stopped driving their cars and accused of sexual impropriety."

Pink News quotes Raül Romeva i Rueda, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) and vice-president of LGBT Intergroup, as saying that "too often trans people remain easy victims: they are visible, and somehow thugs — including in police uniforms — think they have a licence to harass anyone who doesn’t fit traditional gender appearances."

He adds, “Public health concerns, if there are any, must be answered with due respect for all citizens and their integrity. Learning to respect everyone regardless of their appearance is a schoolyard-level lesson, not one for the police who ought to know better!”

In May, a bid to publicize Athens Pride was halted reportedly because the broadcast included "a lesbian kiss," McAlpine notes, adding that a Greek Orthodox Church official in Thessaloniki wanted Pride shut down, characterizing it as an “unholy and unnatural event” and telling people not to take their children.