The primary mission of the Athens Pride non-profit society, as stated in its founding Statutes (2006) is “to advance [the visibility] of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people in society, and to support their demands in Greece and abroad through the organization and production of a ‘Pride’ festival.” (http://www.athenspride.eu/index.php/org/deltia-typou/292-2013-05-22-19-36-09).
The recent triumphs – the Athens Pride poster in the Metro and the approval of a TV spot – are the result of years of effort. These are not “Athens Pride successes.” They are successes for the entire Greek LGBTQI community.
Through its fundraising initiatives, Athens Pride provides a free and accessible, multi-layered event intended to attract the broadest possible public. It creates a “village” that hosts, without discrimination, all community, health, social and political groups, which promote the health and welfare of LGBT+ people in a peaceful fashion.
The annual Athens Pride Festival is one day in June. However, the Athens Pride Society collaborates year round with all interested community organizations. In the past few years alone, the Society in its legal capacity and its members on a personal level have assisted and supported EVERY local LGBTQ organization (details available on request).
Athens Pride has helped create an environment favorable to the creation of new LGBT+ groups (http://athenspride.eu/cms/374).
Athens Pride has drawn increasing respect and support from major cultural, social, charitable, and political institutions and personalities in Greece and abroad – recognition that directly benefits other community organizations (cases available on request).
Most importantly, Athens Pride has mentored and provided a safe, accepting space for hundreds of LGBT+ youth and their families and friends. The Athens Pride experience has bettered countless lives.
Regarding the events in the aftermath of Athens Pride 2014 (14 June):
- Since its inception in 2005, Athens Pride acknowledges at every opportunity the central role of the Trans community in the Festival.
- Athens Pride has participated in and supported all transgender events and requests, whether or not officially included.
- Athens Pride has orally and in writing apologized for and disclaimed the remarks made one (1) year ago by a member of the 2014 team. This person no longer has any connection to the Athens Pride organization.
- From December 2014, representatives of Athens Pride extended numerous invitations to meet, formally or informally, mediated or directly, with representatives of SYD (Transgender Support Association). The most recent invitation for such a meeting came from the attorney- activist Vassilis Sotiropoulos. All of these invitations have been ignored or rejected.
- The Statutes and Bylaws of the Athens Pride Society require that new members of the Production Team have some volunteer experience with the Organization, and have declared a desire to cooperate to produce the Festival.
- Nevertheless, Athens Pride, at a large community meeting (Positive Voice, 7 November 2014) publically committed to relaxing these guidelines in order fast-track a transgender person into the Team through volunteer mentoring. This commitment, among others regarding Trans inclusion, was distributed to the LGBTQI Network via email.
- And most significantly, starting in March, Athens Pride Society has actively invited a succession of three (3) transgender people, members of three (3) different organizations, to join as equal members of the Team. All of these invitations were turned down.
The road to full respect for and legal recognition of the rights of LGBT+ persons by Greek society and its institutions remains long and arduous.
It is the unwavering belief of Athens Pride that only through sober discussion and cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than through boycotts and divisive actions, can the goals common to our entire community be achieved.
Take a Stand for LGBTQI Unity
The Athens Pride Society