Letter from TGEU about oppression of sex workers & trans people in Greece

The current “witch-hunt” in Greece by police and partially accompanied by public health institutions targets sex workers, migrants, transgender persons and other minority groups. See more coverage here: http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2013/06/12/migrants-facing-abuse-violence-and-racist-discrimination-in-greece or here: http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/06/05/and-then-they-came-for-the-trans-people/ This is happening within Operation “Xenios Zeus”, which has been on-going since last summer. Under this order, police has been rounding up migrants, (perceived) sex workers and transgender persons. TGEU has been following closely targeted police actions against trans people in Athens (2012: perceived sex workers were rounded up and forced to test for HIV without adequate medical or psychological care) and Thessaloniki 2013: Transgender women have been systematically subjected to arbitrary ID checks since end of May in Thessaloniki and often detained without legal basis. Lawyer E. Kourta was apprehended illegally when she tried speaking to her transgender client. Greek Minister Citizen Protection Dendias (photo) justified recent systematic police harassment of transgender women in Thessaloniki as an action to “improve the image” of city areas. In a reply to questions from three parliamentarians he wrote the aim of the “Special Operational Action Plan” is to “tackle, among others, prostitution and exploitation of the sexual life of socially and economically vulnerable individuals, to enhance citizens’ feeling of safety and to improve the image of the abovementioned areas”.

In the same spirit, the Greek minister of Health, Adonis Georgiades, with origins from the far-right-wing, has brought back by ministerial decree the order UG/39Α which allows for forced HIV testing – as seen in Athens 2012.

A Parliamentary Question on the incidents in Athens last year was rather coldly answered by Commissioner Reding, referring back to the authority of Greek authorities with some vague promises to monitor the situation. In general, there seems to be very little support for the situation.

However, the trans women in Thessaloniki say: Enough is Enough! Yesterday night a group of transgender women refused to be brought to the police station in another major crack down: they simply laid down on the street and they could convince the police to only write down their names: http://www.tgeu.org/Thessaloniki_Trans_Women_lay_down_in_protest_against_their_detention

However, the trans women and sex workers in Thessaloniki need all visibility and international solidarity. The police harassment is only the tip of the iceberg of a truly trans- and whorephobic climate in Greece.

Transgender Europe – TGEU



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