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After a mob of hundreds attacked a transgender couple, thousands marched to support them

Aristotelous Aristotle Square Thessaloniki night view LGBTQ pride parade participants
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A crowd of over 200 harassed and threw bottles at a nonbinary couple in Greece’s second-largest city Saturday night, sparking outrage from local artists and activists.

An alarming attack on a young LGBTQ+ couple has shaken Greece’s second-largest city in the midst of the annual Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

Footage emerged over the weekend of the incident, in which a group of about 200 people cursed, spat, and threw bottles at two 21-year-old trans people in Aristotelous (Aristotle) Square, the main city square of Thessaloniki.

The attack occurred around 10:30 pm Saturday, according to the Greek Reporter.

The couple sought shelter in a nearby restaurant as they were harassed by the group, which gathered outside the establishment to continue verbally assailing them. When the two left the restaurant, the mob threw bottles at them. Thankfully, neither were physically injured.

Police detained 25 suspects initially, arresting 21 after further questioning. Of those arrested, 11 were minors and 10 were adults, with 12 being foreign nationals. The Thessaloniki Police Directorate's Department for Combating Racist Violence is now handling the case.

Thessaloniki mayor Stelios Angeloudis denounced the attack in a post on Facebook, writing: "We condemn in the most unequivocal and categorical way the vulgar, homophobic attack in the heart of the city that occurred last night. Acceptance is a sign of culture and democracy. In the colorful, inclusive Thessaloniki of respect for diversity there is no room for racist behaviors."

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, a renowned international documentary festival held every March in the city since 1999, also decried the incident in a statement to Variety, saying they are filled with “anger and repugnance.”

“The festival unreservedly and explicitly condemns any act of homophobic and racist violence, sending out a loud and clear message of tolerance, inclusivity, acceptance and visibility through the full scope of its actions," the statement reads. "As we have repeatedly stated, the festival discards any acts of hatred and violence and the extremist voices of intolerance and racism, serving as an open platform of art, inclusivity and dialogue.”

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has included a tribute to LGBTQ+ cinema in this year's lineup, titled “Citizen Queer." It is also specially honoring Greek filmmaker Panayotis Evangelidis, whose work revolves around the queer community.

The attack occurred less than a month after Greece became the first Orthodox Christian country to approve marriage equality. Despite the majority of Greeks supporting the move, the country's Orthodox Church has remained staunchly opposed, and has even expelled lawmakers that supported the measure.

One day after the shocking incident, LGBTQ+ activists and women’s groups led a peaceful march in Aristotelous Square to condemn homophobia and transphobia. Thousands filled the square, waving flags and chanting slogans of inclusion.

Thessaloniki Pride Festival, which organizes the city's Pride events, announced the march in a post on their Facebook, writing: "Fear and insecurity have no place in our city and in our lives. And we'll be there to yell it!"

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.