– «Hate speech, hate crimes and visibility within society»

Athens, 27.5.2011

Greek Transgendered Support Association

http://www.transgender-association.gr/

transgender.support.association@gmail.com

“Hate speech, hate crimes and visibility within society”

Dear friends

Let us thank you for the invitation to participate in the ILGA Mediterranean Conference organized by ILGA, on the subject of: “Hate speech, hate crimes and visibility within society”

A “hot” subject indeed, as here inGreecewhere the Conference takes place, a draft law was submitted for consultation with the intention to constrain hate speech.  An inadequate legislation, as it includes sexual orientation but does not include, explicitly, gender identity .  Also it does not refer clearly to “hate speech”, but vaguely, through the use of terms that undermine the penalization of the act.  In addition, the set pre-condition is not the cause or behaviour with a threatening, offensive or an abusive character, but the “endangerment of” the public order.  Thus, in such fashion, its enforcement becomes even more complicated.

We need to make clear, that here, in the country that this Conference is organized, there is not secure legislative protection from hate speech and, mainly, there is no intention for such an initiative to take place in the near future.

The direct consequence of this, is that while hate speech remains without punishment, the conditions remain fertile for the growth of homophobic and trans-phobic hate speech from public persons and/or Church representatives.

When it comes to hate crimes, the truth is that few of such crimes have been reported inGreeceduring the last twenty years.  Consequently, we can not say that inGreecewe face the problem to the degree in which it occurs in other countries.

However, we need to emphasize that the 2008 legislation, which was voted as additional to the Penal Code, considers hate for reasons of sexual orientation an aggravating element to a crime.  However, there is no reference to gender identity.  Thus, there also we have an additional deficit of legislation.

Despite all these, even independent authorities instead of protecting minorities from racist hate speech, in accordance to their supposed mission, act conflictingly.  One year ago year, the National Council for Radio-Television imposed a fine to a television program, in which the transsexual author and actor Betty Vakalidou appeared. It is interesting to take a look at the reasoning of the decision, mentioning: “it is to wonder whether the content of her sayings, as she referred to personal experiences and reactions of her family and people in general, regarding to her change of sex and transsexuals, was difficult to become perceptible and comprehensible from the under aged television viewers, given that the issue was unfamiliar, perhaps even unknown to them, or even to most of them, and for this reason it could have a negative impact on them”, while it also mentioned: “… the issue of homosexuality (the sexual preference between individuals of the same sex) and of the change of sex, with or without surgical intervention, that was presented in the program under question, comprise a social question and a reality that concerns a minority. It constitutes a situation that deviates from the normal, and for this reason it shocks the under aged television viewer to a great degree … The presentation of elements for the love life of homosexual individuals or transsexuals on the process of sex change and the feelings and the experiences of the interviewed person, potentially influences the under aged television viewers negatively.”

Therefore, even independent institutions that should be allies to the fighting against homophobia and transphobia, are completely hostile to lgbt individuals.

Even more, as it is obvious from the decision mentioned above, the public appearance of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans individual is considered something harmful.  Thus, visibility itself has a negative connotation.  An explicit signal for exclusion of homosexuals and transsexual is sent, criminalizing with fines even our presence (if it was possible – even our own breathing) from the public life.

We thank you

For the Greek Transgendered Support Assocation

Marina Galanou, Chair

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