ON THIS DAY: JANUARY 26, 1981 – A RALLY AT PROPYLAEA
March 22, 2021
Translated by: Maria Galanopoulou
Researchers often identify the early days of the Greek Trans Movement with the notorious bill “On Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Other Relevant Topics”. According to Antonopoulos, “on the pretext of sexually transmitted diseases, the Cabinet of Karamanlis” was using the bill to threaten “women, transgenders, and homosexuals who roam public spaces with the intention of attracting men, with imprisonment of up until one year” (2019).
The response is immediate. On January 26, AKOE (Liberating Movement of Homosexuals of Greece) in partnership with Amphi magazine and occasioned by the burning issue of the bill, brings about its first public picketing at Propylaea, in Athens, with chants, such as “STDs are not treated with bills” or “Our bodies belong to us”. Trans women were leading the protest, while other members of the LGBTQIA+ community followed, either masked or barefaced, as a reminder of the face that society forces them to wear.
Even though the bill, a residue of Junta, was not passed, it was repealed only after the election of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) in the government, in October of the same year, which, however, continued to persecute and use police brutality on members of the community. In her turn, Betty, a trans activist, actress, and author, states that “very soon it was 1981 and this brought along PASOK, as well as the slogan for Change, which never came – at least for us. Until then all of us, trans women, were experiencing the worst conditions of precariousness, discredit, and dishonor, especially when it came to our treatment by the State and, in particular, by the police. We were the easiest and most banal of its victims. According to the final stocktaking, the ’80s decimated trans women mainly due to widespread drug abuse. This, in turn, caused a refusal to found unions for the assertion of their rights”.
In the same year, Paola Revenioti, a trans figure, sex worker, and activist of the Greek LGBT movement, will publish for the first time ever the magazine “To Kraksimo” (= “The Slating”), gradually writing the pages of a community and a culture that were, finally, decisively coming out of the closet.