Report: Greece marginalizes gays, gypsies and immigrants

The Council of Europe said in a report on Thursday that Greece needs to work harder to combat intolerance towards LGBTI and Roma communities as well as immigrants.

Despite a government plan to improve inclusion by 2025, the report found that the Greek LGBTI community still faces intolerance and discrimination — even as teachers make anti-gay remarks in schools, according to a report by the Council’s Commission to Combat Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

The report stated that “the European Commission delegation against racism and intolerance heard shocking testimonies about statements by some teachers to intersex students,” referring to a study of young people that found the situation in Greek schools is “deplorable.”

“The attitude and perception of Greek society towards intersex people alternates between pathological (medical) ignorance and hostility,” the report said.

The commission said it had “credible accounts” of doctors advising intersex children to be aborted.

Homophobic attacks are not uncommon in Greece where the powerful Greek Orthodox Church does not officially approve of same-sex relations.

The European Committee against Racism and Intolerance has 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 immigrants.

The report stated that Greek authorities recorded 164 hate crimes cases in 2018, an increase of a quarter from the previous year.

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

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance added that the UN-backed Racial Violence Recording Network recorded 521 incidents of racist violence from 2016 to 2020.

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

It added that despite specific training for police, specialized prosecutors and a 24-hour hotline, there had been no “organised gathering” of hate speech data by the police.

The commission also noted that the Greek Ombudsman’s Office, the only organization that promotes equality in all areas in Greece, does not have the legal powers to bring discrimination cases to court.

“The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance 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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