"Unconditional" Athens Pride Festival rejects European LGBT Police Association

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The Athens Pride Festival 2022 Committee has rejected the application of the European LGBT Police Association who wished to participate in this year's parade, citing the community's fraught relationship with Greek police authorities.

In their reply, published on their website, the Athens Pride Festival outlines in detail its rationale for rejecting the inclusion of the European LGBT Police Association who wanted to participate with a stand, greetings from the main stage, and block in the parade:

“We thank you for your desire to support Athens Pride as we wish you every success in organizing the Conference of European LGBTQI+ Police. We hope that the good practices discussed will find fertile ground in the Hellenic Police.

"Given the long-fraught relations between the Greek LGBTQI+ community and the Hellenic police, as well as the recent dramatic developments in the case of the murder of activist Zak Kostopoulos, your identification as police officers, whether in uniform or with any other signifier, does not yet have a place in the Athens Pride Festival. It is widely known that many LGBTQI+ people in Greece have been repeatedly abused, harassed, ignored and even killed by police. Therefore, it is not only our obligation but also our sincere desire to protect those people with such experiences from any exposure to situations that may become abusive or may trigger comparable emotions.

"Besides this violent reality, no move has yet been made by the Hellenic Police to accept, demonstrate willingness to cooperate effectively and publicly acknowledge that human rights are universal and non-negotiable. LGBTQI + people in Greece live in a permanent state of fear and feel unprotected, as the police often act on the basis of homophobic, sexist, racist, ablest and transphobic beliefs, and thus violate basic human rights.

"Nonetheless, we recognize the difficult circumstances in which you claim the visibility of our common identity in a highly toxic space and that the creation and functioning of your groups is a brave and very basic first step. But will take many more steps by the police as a whole to bridge the entrenched gap in order for us to parade openly together some day. As we feel certain that you, too, recognize the vulnerability we feel as LGBTQI+ individuals, we expect you to handle and support with understanding, affection and acceptance the above decision. We believe that you deeply understand our anguish in creating a safer space where all individuals will be able to celebrate and claim the rights we deserve.

"We will happily welcome you as individuals to experience together this day of remembrance, celebration and activism, with Pride for all those identities that we have not chosen, that govern us, and for which we experience constant discrimination."

Athens Pride Festival 2022 will kick off on Friday (June 10) and will continue its celebrations through June 18.

Under the title "Unconditional", this year's celebrations focus on promoting "unconditional education, unconditional equality to marriage and family, unconditional safety, and an unconditional life overall," according to the festival's official description. They are also calling this year's festival an "unconditional celebration."

Events include concerts, exhibitions, live performances, film screenings and discussions, culminating on June 18 in the Athens Pride Parade that will start at 7:00 pm at the Greek parliament, Syntagma Square

Last year the  Athens Pride Day & Parade  took place under the motto “This is what unites us”.