Costas and his boyfriend were sitting on a bench in a central Athens square, drinking a beer and having a laugh on a summer evening, when two men on a motorbike threw a bucket of dirty water over them.
Minutes later the couple were being attacked by a group of homophobic thugs, Costas’ leg was broken in three places, and they were left for dead in the street.
This happened in late August last year, and it is just one of the many homophobic attacks in Greece. Anti-LGBTI attacks have doubled between 2014 and 2015.
Costas told Gay Star News that he feels like he is ‘living in the middle ages’, referencing the country’s financial crisis.
‘The poor became poorer, the rich became richer, and the witch hunt has begun. It feels like I’m a witch that is being hunted,’ he said.
Speaking about the day in question, Costas said there are ‘no words to express the nightmare’. He had to have a surgical operation and deal with the hardships of Greek bureaucracy. His leg is still in pain.
The police defined the incident as a case of ‘minor injuries’.
Following the first attack, the couple moved into a new neighborhood and into a new house where there was a family living next to them with an 18-year-old son.
‘On the way to the mini-market one evening in March this year my partner ran into the 18-year-old who was his friends. He heard comments about him, and then asked the reason. He then punched my partner in the face.’
The worst part about the situation is the police have refused to investigate or do anything about the attacks.
‘From the state, we don’t have any help. We don’t have progress on anti-discrimination laws, no same-sex marriages, and they don’t do anything about attacks. The attacks have more than doubled in 2015. It’s a disgrace.’
Costas and his partner, who is a refugee and therefore cannot be named, are being helped by Amnesty International.
They are calling on people to write to Nikos Paraskevopoulos, the Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, and demand something be done about the rise of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attacks in Greece. Find out more here.
A kiss-in is also being held at 1pm on Sunday (6 December) in front of the Greek Embassy in London to show support for Costas and any other victim of violence.
”We are citizens like any other,’ Costas said. ‘We should be respected and we should not be discriminated against. If the government doesn’t want us to leave, then they must do something. It’s an unbearable situation’.
Eliza Goroya, Amnesty’s Greece Campaigner, said she was ‘deeply concerned’ about the sharp increase in anti-LGBTI attacks.
‘Every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex person should live free from violence and the threat of it, and see their human rights realised regardless of who they are, who they love, or how they express their gender. The several alarming incidents recorded by our partner NGO ColourYouth include not only cases like Costas’s, but also rapes, and even shootings against LGBTI people. It comes as a shock to think this is still happening, yet not enough is being done to prevent further attacks and bring perpetrators to justice,’ she said in a statement to GSN.
‘The lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships, joint adoption rights, and legal gender recognition makes LGBTI people feel even more vulnerable. It sends out the message that LGBTI people are anything but equal. [The expected bill for the inclusion of same-sex couples in civil unions is a first step towards the right direction, but hardly enough.]
‘The Greek government should step up to provide what LGBTI activists have been bravely fighting for: the right to non-discrimination, safety, dignity, family, and justice. ‘