Athens, March 14, 2023


Subject: «The proposals – observations of the GTSA on the Draft Law on the New Immigration Code»

The Greek Transgender Support Association (GTSA), is a voluntary non-governmental organization that promotes the rights and freedoms of trans, gender-diverse and LGBTQI+ persons in general, as well as sex workers, with this press release submits its proposals – observations on the Draft Law of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum on the New Immigration Code.

Our observations -proposals by article:

Part A. Article 4.Definitions. Point στ’

In point στ’, Article 4, Definitions, the definition of a person with refugee status is given, only persons facing a well-founded fear of persecution due to “race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership of a particular social group” are mentioned. For reasons of accuracy, inclusion and above all explicit reference so that there are clear directions, we propose, in relation to previous legislation on asylum, the reference of the reasons that a person is considered to belong to a particular social group, such as gender/sex, age, disability, state of health, sexual orientation and gender identity and sex characteristics.

Specifically, we propose the following rewording:

στ’. “refugee”: the citizen of a third country or a stateless person who, as a result of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular social group including gender/sex, age, disability, state of health, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity and sex characteristics, is outside the country of nationality and cannot or, because of the fear of this […]

Part A. Article 4.Definitions.point λζ’

Point λζ’ defines the family members of a Greek citizen (spouses, children, civil partnership). We propose to add, in relation to previous Presidential Decrees, the persons who have a duly proven relationship.

Specifically, in the sub-point we propose the rewording:

λζε.  any other member of the family of a Greek citizen or of the other spouses or persons in civil partnership, including persons who maintain a duly proven relationship with a Greek citizen, regardless, who does not fall under the persons mentioned in the above cases, as long as this member is supported by a Greek citizen or the other of spouses or person in civil partnership and serious health reasons make it absolutely necessary for the Greek citizen to take care of the family member in question,

Part A. Article 4.Definitions.pointλη’

For similar reasons as in point λζ’, we propose that ληγ’ be reworded as follows:

ληγ’. family members of first line, blood relatives in direct line, who are under the age of twenty-one (21) or regardless of age, as long as they are dependent, as well as those of the spouse or person in civil partnership, including persons who maintain with a citizen of the Union duly proven relationship, as defined in ληβaccording to the above distinction, in terms of age, as well as adopted children, also according to the above distinction,
Part A. Article 11.Paragraphs 1&3.

We propose to remove the fine of one hundred (100) euros from the persons who apply for the extension of the residence permit in paragraph 1, while we also propose to provide an alternative way, except only through an electronic address, for the applicant’s communication with the one-stop service for the issues relating to the application for renewal of his residence permit in paragraph 3.

Part A. Article 18.Point 5.

This point defines the actions that according to articles 1 and 2 of Law 927/1979 (apparently as it has been revised under Law 4285/2014 which is probably not taken into account if one sees the wording), as and of Law 4443/2016 which are inherent prosecuted. Both laws, however, include all categories (race, color, religion, genetic features, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, or disability) and not just racial or ethnic origin, as in the present.

We oppose the following rewording for both legal and content reasons:

5. The acts of articles 1 and 2 of Law 927/1979 (A’ 139), on the prohibition of punishable acts or actions aimed at inciting, provoking, prompting or encouraging acts or actions that can cause discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons, and Article 11 of Law 4443/2016 (A’ 232), on the implementation of equal treatment of persons regardless of race, color, religion, genetic features, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics or disability, are inherent prosecuted.

Part A. Article 19.Paragraph 1, Point β’.

This point defines the reasons for declaring changes in the personal status of a person who is a citizen of a third country. Apart from all the others, we also propose the possible legal recognition of gender identity according to Law 4491/2017 , as although the law does not explicitly define this possibility, there is jurisprudence of the courts of Thessaloniki , Lesvos and Athens , of persons with refugee status who have changed their gender and name registration through Law 4491/2017.

Therefore, we consider the following rewording more than necessary, as in these cases a very serious problem may arise:

β. any change in personal status, in particular the change of citizenship, the agreement, dissolution or annulment of a marriage or civil partnership or the birth of a child, or the legal recognition of the person’s gender identity.

Part A. Article 23.Paragraph 5.

This article defines the obligations of employers and employees and sanctions in cases of violation. But in paragraph 5, it is defined what happens “When the violation of this is done for the purpose of promoting third country citizens to prostitution”, as stated. This is completely arbitrary (in addition to the fact that legally in the 1999 Law (L. 2734/1999), there is no such term “prostitution” in the Law and in addition to the fact that the term “prostitution” stigmatizes people), as long as they are met the terms of the 1999 Law, no reason for violation is perceived. It is noticeable that there is a violation if the reasons for the law on human trafficking or for minors where the legislation is clearly violated, but not generally for sex work which we do not see as an exception as long as the legal conditions are met.

We take this point very seriously, and propose the following rewording:

5. When the violation of this is done with the purpose of promoting citizens of third countries in sexual trafficking in human beings […]

Part B. Article 41.Equal Treatment.

Despite the fact that this article incorporates article 16 of Directive 2021/1883/EU in which there is no explicit reference to the fields of equal treatment (which according to all Greek legislation and especially law 4443/2016 is race, color, religion, genetic features, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics or disability), we should note that in the preamble of the Directive in point 9 it is stated: “(9) In implementing this Directive, Member States are not to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation, as required […]”, we propose for reasons of legal certainty the rewording of paragraph 1, so that there is an explicit inclusion, as follows:

1. EU Blue Card holders shall enjoy equal treatment with nationals of the Member State issuing the EU Blue Card on grounds of race, colour, religion, genetic features, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics or disability as regards concerns:

Part B. Article 65.Paragraph 3.

This defines when equal treatment is not provided, while incorporating article 23 of Directive 2014/36/EU . Here we should note that in point α’, the integration becomes distorted, as the directive in question states that persons of equal treatment are limited (not excluded as stated in this article) in the social security sector (point d’ of paragraph 1 of Directive), however, the disputed article (pointi’ of paragraph e of the Directive), states that this exception occurs: “under point (d) of the first subparagraph of paragraph 1 by excluding family benefits and unemployment benefits” , that is, in short, family allowances and unemployment benefits are included. In addition, the Directive, as we pointed out earlier, does not refer to an exception, but a limitation. Therefore, it should be amended to refer to a limitation (not an exception) on the one hand, on the other hand to explicitly state that family allowances and unemployment benefits are not excluded.

For the same reasons, we also propose the amendment of paragraph 3 of Article 82.

Part Δ. Article 86. Paragraph 1.

Article 5 of Directive 2003/86 is integrated into this article (of course, it raises questions as to how it is also integrated into the previous ones 84 & 85), and it concerns family reunification. A point that is not incorporated at all by the said article of the directive and we consider it particularly important (especially when we talk about citizens of third countries who belong to the LGBTQI community and even more so to those whose status is illegal), is the following that is included in paragraph 2, point 3 of the article of the Directive and states that: ” When examining an application concerning the unmarried partner of the sponsor, Member States shall consider, as evidence of the family relationship, factors such as a common child, previous cohabitation, registration of the partnership and any other reliable means of proof.”. Due to its particular importance for LGBTQI persons, we propose to include this reference verbatim at the end of the 1st paragraph of this article.

In short, we propose the rewording:

1. Each family member, after entering the country and before the entry visa expires, submits an application for the granting of the relevant residence permit, in accordance with article 10. For minors, the application is submitted by the person exercising custody and an individual residence permit is granted. When examining an application concerning any extramarital partner, factors such as the existence of a common child, previous cohabitation, the registration of the cohabitation relationship and any other reliable means of proof are taken into account as proof of the family relationship.

Part ΣΤ. Article 116.Paragraph 1.

For similar reasons to Article 82, par. 3, we propose an amendment to Article 116, par. 1.

Part Ζ. Article 134. Paragraph 4.

This article defines residence for exceptional humanitarian reasons. However, in paragraph 4, it is stated that the special categories are defined and especially in point γ’, it is specified that while this may be the case for “citizens of third countries who reside in the country for at least seven (7) continuous years”, at the end of point γ’, it is added that “The time of stay based on a relevant right of the applicant for international protection in the Country, according to par. 1 of article 73 of Law 4939/2022 , is not counted towards the completion of the seven years”. We consider this approach to be completely wrong and completely illogical – a person who is an applicant for international protection resides in the country absolutely legally, and we consider it necessary to count the time that the person had applied for asylum in the seven years.

We propose to amend the end of point γ’ as follows:

[…] The time of stay based on a relevant right of the applicant for international protection in the Country, according to par. 1 of article 73 of Law 4939/2022, is counted towards the completion of the seven years.

Part H’. Article 135.Paragraph 1.

This article defines a time – deadline for ” thoughtfulness” persons who belong to special categories of rights violations, such as human trafficking. We point out that this constitutes an integration of Article 6 of Directive 2004/81/EC , which refers generally to crimes. However, if the national legislator chooses to specialize (as is the case here), we strongly recommend the inclusion of crimes with racial characteristics as well as domestic violence.

We propose a specific rewording:

1. To citizens of third countries who have been identified as victims of human trafficking, domestic or gender-based violence, racist crimes, or smuggling […]
The same, of course, must be done in the following articles (136, 137, 138, 141 and 142 for legal technical reasons), which still refer only to victims of human trafficking or smuggling immigration. They must be completed.

Part Θ’. Article 145.Paragraph 2.

This article defines the conditions for a long-term residence permit. In paragraph 2, point α’, it is defined that the person, in addition to knowledge of Greek, must have knowledge of Greek history and culture. We think that the requirement is excessive and knowledge of Greek is sufficient. And, in any case, such a condition is not included in article 7 and par. 3 of article 8 of Directive 2003/109 which it incorporates, as mentioned.

For similar reasons, we propose an amendment to Article 161, regarding the points of reference to knowledge of Greek history and culture.

Part Θ’. Article 162.

In this article, the conditions for ten-year residence permits are defined. This article is particularly problematic as the status of unaccompanied minors and immigrant children must be regulated. The special permit that has been in effect since 2014 to ensure the legitimacy of second-generation youth is effectively abolished. Furthermore, it violates the commitments of the Prime Minister himself who had mentioned in his speech how he would solve this problem in its entirety and we believe that this article should be removed or otherwise supplemented in an inclusive manner.

In fact, as we note in our next observation on article 172, the amount of the fee in these cases reaches 900 (!!!) euros. Of course, such a high bar cannot be set – it is annihilating.

Part ΙΓ. Article 172.

This article defines the amount of fees for residence permits as well as fines. The fees in particular even reach the height of 1,000 euros. We can understand, for example, if a residence permit is requested for investors that it reaches a very high price, but for people who request a residence permit for 1,3, 5 or even ten years, this is devastating and more than unacceptable. The amounts of money, both for residence permits and for fines (and here we are referring in general and this permeates the entire draft law) must be reasonable and rationalized and in any case be at the limit of the capabilities of the applicants.

The Greek Transgender Support Association submits its proposals to the draft law under consultation, will monitor its development, and hopes to incorporate its proposals on the above, while continuing to fight on the one hand for the inclusion of equal treatment, integration and rationalization of the frame.

Finally, we point out in a strong way that in addition to our observations and in relation to asylum requests submitted by persons with a refugee profile for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity, especially in the last period of time, we have an inexplicably increasing number of rejections with inadequate or more precisely offensive justifications for LGBTQI+ persons and which are not consistent with all the directions given by all the international organizations active in matters of international protection.

We declare that we are following the developments, we will intervene where necessary, while we point out that it is an objective and inexorable need after all of this, for specialized seminars to be held for asylum operators and all staff who handle these issues in the field of international protection for sexual reasons orientation, gender expression, gender identity or sex characteristics.



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