Mapping the LGBTIQA+ landscape in Greece

Over the course of this blog, we have touched many times upon LGBTIQA+ issues that are rooted in the context of Greece. Just bring in mind our very first ‘Drag gender to hell’ post where on the occasion of the homophobic comments of a Greek politician we discussed the issue of drag in relation to gender, the ‘Pride spirit lives on’ article on the history of Pride Parade from Stonewall to our home city Thessaloniki, Greece, the ‘Meet our community partners’ blog series among which there are many Greek LGBTIQA+ organizations, the ‘Bloody homophobia’ post on the lifting of the national restrictions on blood donation by Greek MSM, men who have sex with men, and last but not least the ‘X to conversion therapies’ article on the recent partial ban of conversion therapies by the Greek government. The reason for this interest is quite obvious to those who are aware of where Ecce Homo as a queer brand is based: we are Greeks, and our office and production unit are in the co-capital of Greece in the north, Thessaloniki! For this reason, we decided to launch this brand-new blog series titled ‘Made in Greece’ in the course of which we will attempt to map the landscape of LGBTIQA+ rights, activism, and culture in Greece in order to introduce our beautiful home country to our friends and customers! The occasion for such an initiative was none other than the fact that Greece is constantly on the lists of the most visited countries in the world and of the most popular LGBTIQA+ travel destinations each summer. The natural beauty and the rich culture make Greece an ideal place to spend your summer vacation in. But what is the status of LGBTIQA+ rights here? What does it mean to live as a queer person in Greece in 2022? In this blog article, we are going to present to you some of the most important LGBTIQA+ organizations that operate currently in Greece and their subject matter as their mere existence reflects up to a certain extent the areas of LGBTIQA+ activism and the challenges queer people face, and which are at the top of the agenda of Greek activists as we speak.

To give you a little bit of context, the official starting point of the LGBTIQA+ movement in Greece was marked by the founding of the Liberation Movement of Homosexuals of Greece (Απελευθερωτικό Κίνημα Ομοφυλοφίλων Ελλάδος - ΑΚΟΕ) in the autumn of 1976 on the occasion of a homophobic and transphobic bill that proposed the criminalization of the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and which provided the police with the right to raid gay establishments, such as gay bars, and queer-friendly public spaces, such as cruising spots. The social and political mobilization of AKOE and the publication of its political magazine named AMFI (AΜΦΙ), from 1978 to 1990, gave birth to a fervent process of claiming LGBTQIA+ rights. Characteristically, the first attempt to organize a Pride Parade in Greece as a political event was made by AKOE on 28 June 1980 in Athens, Greece. Regarding the history of the Pride Parade in Greece, prior to 2005, there were many attempts to organize such a parade and similar events. However, the first ‘official’ Athens Pride Parade Festival was organized in 2005 with the participation of many LGBTIQA+ groups, NGOs, and collectives, and ever since, it takes place every June in Athens. During the last decade, we observe the organization of such Pride Parades in other major Greek cities energizing the local LGBTIQA+ communities and following diverse political trajectories.

Since 2010, we witness a blossoming of LGBTIQA+ activism in Greece with the founding of a great number of new organizations corresponding to an increasing consciousness-raising regarding gender and sexuality issues. We are very proud that three of these organizations are our community partners as members of our extended CSR program. To be fair, the following presentation is partial and limited as it includes only a selection of organizations that are based in Athens and have a legal form. There are many others grassroots activist groups around the country that are not part of this 'official' non-governmental governmentality. We promise that we will dedicate an exclusive article to them by giving them the attention they deserve. Having said that, among the LGBTIQA+ organizations that currently shape the landscape of LGBTIQA+ activism in Athens, Greece, one can find the following:  

LGBTIQA+ youth activism

Colour Youth was founded in 2011 in Athens as an LGBTQ youth group that aims to form a strong youth community, support its members, and assert their rights. They have run many projects since their creation, such as the ‘Tell us’ (‘Πες το σε μας’) that aspires to record incidents of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic violence and discrimination, face their consequences, inform and sensitize society on the issue.

Trans activism

The Transgender Support Association (Σωματείο Υποστήριξης Διεμφυλικών – ΣΥΔ) was founded in 2010 as the key transgender organization in the country that promotes the equal treatment of all Greek people based on their gender identity and gender expression or characteristics and the abolition of all forms of discrimination that trans and intersex people face on a daily basis.

HIV/AIDS activism

Positive Voice (Θετική Φωνή), the Greek Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS was founded in 2009 with the purpose of fighting against the spread of HIV and the minimization of the latter’s social and financial impact. The Association aims at securing better prevention and counseling practices, healthcare services, and social care for seropositive persons and groups vulnerable to HIV. 

Sex work

Affiliated with Positive Voice is Red Umbrella which was created in 2015 and offers a range of empowering services to sex workers, such as legal and health counseling and sexual health testing, and advocates for their rights and the reformation of the sex work legal framework in Greece.

LGBTIQA+ refugee activism

Emantes - International LGBTIQA+ Solidarity is a Social Cooperative Enterprise that was founded in July 2018 by experienced volunteers in the LGBTQIA+ refugee field based in Athens, Greece. They provide psychosocial support to LGBTQIA+ refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers and they raise awareness of the issues the LGBTQIA+ refugee/migrant community faces, by highlighting the multiple repressions posed by its dual identity and its invisibility within the general refugee/migrant population.

PFLAG activism

The Rainbow Families of Greece (Οικογένειες Ουράνιο Τόξο) is an NGO founded in 2012 and focuses on LGBTQI+ parents and their families as well as on parents of LGBTQI+ children. The organization’s core goals are mobilization, representation, dissemination of information, support, empowerment, and advocacy of Rainbow Families in Greece.  

LGBTIQA+ elders

Proud Seniors Greece (Ομάδα Υποστήριξης ΛΟΑΤΚΙ+ Ατόμων 50 κ’ Άνω) is an organization founded in 2015 acting as a network of support and solidarity for LGBTIQA+ persons that are over 50 years old. They also facilitate the coordination between public and private service providers and their users, while they create safe spaces for their senior members to socialize.

LGBTIQA+ and education

The Rainbow School (Πολύχρωμο Σχολείο) is an NGO created in 2009 by educators, social workers, and mental health professionals that aims at advocating on issues of gender and sexual identity and expression in the domain of the Greek educational system according to the principles of the inclusive education teaching model.

Intersex activism

Intersex Greece is a nationwide collective of intersex adults, parents of intersex children, supportive individuals, and related professionals located in Greece that has at its helm a coordinating team of adult intersex individuals and parents of intersex children, being framed by inclusive and valuable partners. Since May 2021, Intersex Greece is a member of the Organization Intersex International Europe.

LGBTIQA+ and disability

Greek LGBT People with Disabilities (ΛΟΑΤ ΑΜΕΑ) is an association formed in 2016 that inspires to defend, demand, and promote the rights of Greek LGBTIQA+ persons with disabilities in order to ensure that they have equal opportunities and access to every aspect of social life.   

Pride Parade

Athens Pride was founded in 2006 and is an all-volunteer, non-profit registered partnership whose primary function is to organize the annual Athens Pride festival and parade and to produce cultural, social, and political events during the year, alone or in partnership with other organizations.

LGBTIQA+ mental health

Orlando LGBT+ is a scientific entity that specializes in the mental health of LGBTIQA+ persons in Greece and was created in 2018. They fight for the complete depathologization of sexual orientation and gender identity while following and disseminating internationally recognized good practices for mental health providers working with LGBTIQA+ persons.

LGBTIQA+ rights advocacy

The Gay and Lesbian Community of Greece (Ομοφυλοφιλική και Λεσβιακή Κοινότητα Ελλάδας – ΟΛΚΕ) was founded in April 2004 and aims at creating a community and an advocacy group that represents and supports every sexual and gender identity of the acronym.