Greece’s Kissing Gays Defied Neo-Nazis and Bigot Bishops Yesterday
I have always been ambivalent about January 6. It is the day before my birthday, which means I can get presents and get drunk. On the other hand, it is a great celebration of Orthodoxy. Greeks gather at various ports around the country and watch a rather theatrical religious tradition: priests throwing a crucifix into the sea while several young men dive into cold water and attempt to retrieve it for good luck. The day is called Theophany, or Epiphany, and it commemorates the revelation of God in human form through Jesus.
Since I’m an atheist, this whole ritual doesn’t mean much to me. However, this year January 6 got a lot more interesting. I got up early in the morning and joined a group of gay activists, members of Greece’s LGBT community, who gathered at the port of Piraeus to protest against Seraphim, the town’s ultra-conservative Bishop, who is notorious for his homophobic statements. By the time Seraphim tossed his cross into the sea, the assorted Ls, Gs, Bs and Ts were giving each other big gay kisses and handling out leaflets that read: “Love is not a sin.”
Last November, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Greece to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships like straight people can. The Strasbourg-based tribunal ruled that, in not doing so, Athens was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Greece remains the only EU country other than Lithuania to refuse to extend this right to same-sex couples. Seraphim responded to the plans to make Greece join the rest of Europe in the 21st century by stating that “homosexuality is a unnatural aberration not even observed in animals.” A statement that discriminates against the sexual habits of manyalbatrosses, king penguins, dolphins, giraffes, and ancient Greeks.