Historic first as Greece appoints first openly gay minister

History has been made as the Prime Minister of Greece has appointed Nicholas Yatromanolakis making him the first openly LGBTQ+ cabinet minister.

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Nicholas Yatromanolakis is set to become the country’s next deputy minister of culture in what is a major stride toward inclusion. Yatromanolakis made history in 2019 as the first LGBTQ+ person ever seated to a senior government position.

Yatromanolakis graduated from Panteion University in Athens and has a masters in public policy from Harvard University.

The Cabinet reshuffle is due to take place today, January 5, in an effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a significant impact on Greece’s already struggling economy.

Observers are hailing the appointment of Yatromanolakis as a step in the right direction. Alex Patelis, the chief economic adviser to Tsipras called it “a historic day for LGBTI+ representation and a big win for meritocracy and better decision-making through diversity.”

“Congrats to Nicholas Yatromanolakis for showing you can be yourself and still succeed,” he said on Twitter. “May others draw strength to live their life openly.”

Yatromanolakis has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights as well as a strong supporter of public health protocols in place due to COVID-19. He has yet to make a statement following his appointment.

While this appointment is a step in the right direction, Greece’s progress on LGBTQ+ rights still has a long way to go. Civil unions have been legal in Greece since 2015 but they have yet to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

In 2017 the government passed legislation which allows transgender people to correct their legal gender without needing to undergo gender confirmation surgery. The following year same-sex couples were afforded the right to foster children for the first time.

While this progress has been made, hate crime and hate speech directed towards LGBTQ+ people have seen a sharp rise.

On September 21 2018, LGBTQ+ activist Kostopoulos died following a brutal assault in Athens. While mainstream Greek media attempted to frame him as a drug addict and thief breaking into a jewelry shop, video footage revealed the drag performer being brutally beaten by two men in the street as onlookers stood by.

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