Athens, November 4, 2022
Subject: «A particularly important victory for the trans community: The first conviction for public incitement to violence or hatred based on gender identity»
The Greek Transgender Support Association (GTSA), is a voluntary non-governmental organization that promotes the rights and freedoms of trans, gender-diverse, intersex and LGBTQI+ persons in general, aswellassexworkers, with this press release, expresses absolute satisfaction for the first conviction pursuant to Law 927/1979 as amended by Law 4285/2014, for public incitement to violence, hatred or discrimination on grounds of gender identity.
Specifically, on October 3, 2017, a few days before the legislation on the legal recognition of gender identity was passed (n. 4491/2017) and while the law was being discussed in the competent Committee of the Parliament and had received special publicity, a veteran athlete posted on social media ( facebook) the following text:
“I wish the first sex changes will be made to the children of those who voted for this disgrace. Let’s see with what pride they will come out.
PS You also legitimize pedophiles too, to complete the crimes.”
With this statement of his, in addition to the wrong terminology (“sex change”) which is extremely abusive in itself, he “wishes” (secretly in a kind of curse) that something (bad in his view) happens to other people’s children (he does not utter i.e. some point of view – value judgement) based on a specific characteristic (their gender identity), but at the same time it equates the situation of transgender/trans persons with a serious criminal offense, pedophilia, while referring to “crimes”.
Following, the memorable President of the GTSA, Marina Galanou, bearing the burden and responsibility of representing the transgender community, but also in her position as a Council of Europe Expert on gender identity issues, while it should be noted that Marina was and a member of the Legislative Committee for the preparation of the controversial Draft Law on the legal recognition of gender identity, announced that she will proceed with a lawsuit against the veteran athlete based on the anti-racism law.
Within a few minutes and for a period of several days, Marina received verbally abusive, but mainly threatening messages about her physical integrity and life from followers – fans of the veteran athlete, some of whom even declared it in their abusive and threatening messages, a fact that proved the absolute connection of the veteran footballer’s statements, who as a public figure had particular recognition even today due to his promotion as an athlete from Euro 2004 onwards, with the incitement and provocation of third parties (his fans to be exact) in threatening acts , both against our President, Marina Galanou, and against transgender/trans persons.
Also, during the same period of time, Marina was receiving threatening phone calls on her cell phone (which was publicly known, therefore accessible to everyone), as well as on our Association’s landline. We should note that, yes, on many occasions in the past there may have been negative reactions from some, however, it was the first time that there was such an intensely toxic climate that it reached the point of threats against the physical integrity and life of both our memorable President, and against transgender/trans persons, i.e. based on their gender identity, a fact that now standardized the definition of Law 927/1979, for public incitement or provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence characterized by gender identity as per result threatened their lives.
Subsequently and based on all of the above, our memorable President filed a lawsuit in the Department for Combating Racist Violence of HELLAS Police, both against the veteran athlete who apparently incited violence that was actually personified by his fans, and against those who abused her in a vulgar and threatening manner. The lawsuit was filed based on Article 1 of Law 927/1979 as amended in 2014 and against the other perpetrators for insults with transphobic characteristics (Article 82A & 361Penal Code).
At this point we should point out that beyond all this, the veteran footballer’s statements had a wide appeal: in particular, they had sparked a transphobic wave that even influenced the passing of the relevant article on the gender identity of minors, resulting in finally, the Parliament should add, by amendment, restrictions that are not consistent with the principle of self-determination and specifically, while there was no relevant legislative provision before, the legislator, under the pressure of this unrestrained populism, should prohibit the legal recognition of gender identity for persons under 15 years of age and to impose on 15-17 year olds the mandatory examination by an interdisciplinary committee of the Ministries of Health and Justice in order to allow them to proceed with the legal recognition of gender identity, which is not consistent with the standards of the Council of Europe and all international organizations for the defense of human rights. In other words, it was standardized beyond the incitement to violence or hatred and that which concerns discrimination against transgender/trans persons based on their gender identity.
Marina Galanou’s lawsuit went ahead and a few months before she left us, she received a summons from the court for his trial to take place and (unfortunately only) against only one person who insulted her in a vulgar way.
After two postponements, the trial took place, yesterday, November 3, 2022, at the Η’ Single-Member Criminal Court of Athens, which after the examination of three prosecution witnesses that Marina had brought (the current President of the Greek Transgender Support Association and Marina’s collaborator, Anna ApergiKonstantinidi, ParvyPalmou, Psychotherapist of the GTSA, and her husband ThanosVessis), the court accepted the plaintiff’s arguments in their entirety, against the first for public incitement to violence or hatred due to the gender identity of the victims (article 1 Law 927/1979 ) and the second for insulting with transphobic characteristics (Article 82A and 361 of the Penal Code), and sentenced the first accused to ten (10) months in prison, recognizing him only the mitigating factor of life in common law, as well as the other who insulted Marina to seven ( 7) months of suspended imprisonment. Defendants have the right to appeal.
The case was taken up from the beginning by the lawyer at the Supreme Court, Marina’s collaborator, legal advisor of the GTSA, but also standing next to her deputy at the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR), VasilisSotiropoulos, and he brought it to completion in a truly exemplary manner. We thank him from the bottom of our hearts, both for this decision and for all the excellent cooperation we have with him.
This decision, in addition to the particularly emotional burden it has for us as the lawsuit was filed by our memorable President who is a constant inspiration, is a particularly important victory for our community, as it is the first conviction for public incitement to violence or hatred (in the first degree) due to gender identity, while at the same time confirming the application of Article 82A of the Penal Code which had been applied on another occasion (Three-member Misdemeanor Court of Chalkida).
An application for just satisfaction will follow due to exceeding the reasonable duration of the trial as more than five (5) years have passed since the filing of the lawsuit until the issuance of the first instance decision.
The Greek Transgender Support Association (GTSA) declares its absolute satisfaction and will continue on the path set by Marina, both to fight against all forms of intolerance, racism and incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence, as well as for the full protection of human rights and freedoms of LGBTQI+ and especially trans persons in every sector of the public and private sphere.
CLARIFICATION REGARDING PENALTY
According to the official excerpt of the court decision we received from the court, the sentence imposed at first instance in this case is 10 months of suspended imprisonment, always with the recognition of the mitigating factor of life in common law, as we mentioned in our initial announcement.
However, Article 1 of Law 927/1979, which was applied for the first time in terms of gender identity in this case, defines a penalty framework of 3 months to 3 years, cumulatively with a fine of €5,000-€20,000.
THE BOARD OF MEMBERS
GREEK TRANSGENDER SUPPORT ASSOCIATION
15 Viktoros Ugo, 10437, Athens
Trans Day Reception & Empowerment Center: Evangelistrias 6, Kallithea Athens, 17671
Tel. 210.9210 697 & 698 753 9741
Office hours for the public: Tuesday & Thursday – 12.00-20.00
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