Thousands protest in Greece following attack on transgender couple

On Sunday night, thousands marched the streets of Thessaloniki in solidarity with a young transgender couple attacked the night before.

The picture shows protestors holding signs as they march in solidarity with the transgender couple attacked in Greece.
Image: @teacherdude on Twitter

Content warning: descriptions of transphobia and verbal and physical attacks.

After a young transgender couple was violently attacked by a mob of more than 100 individuals in Greece on Saturday, March 9, a coalition of activists, women’s groups and student organisations gathered for a march against hate the following day.

The pair were pursued in the city centre by a large group who subjected them to homophobic and transphobic slurs. As they managed to find shelter in a restaurant to wait for the police, the crowd continued to verbally harass them from outside the establishment. When the couple left the restaurant, the mob violently threw bottles and objects at them. Fortunately, neither were physically injured.

The Thessaloniki Police Directorate’s Department for Combatting Racist Violence is handling the case. For now, 25 suspects have been detained by police, 21 of whom were arrested following questioning. It was reported that 11 of them were minors, and 10 were adults.

The following day, Stelios Angeloudis, Mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece, denounced the attack on the transgender couple.

“We condemn in the most unequivocal way the vulgar, homophobic attack in the heart of the city,” he stated. “Acceptance is a sign of culture and democracy. In the colourful, inclusive Thessaloniki of respect for diversity there is no place for racist attitudes.”


The protest was organised in less than 24 hours in response to the horrifying incident on Saturday night. Thousands of people gathered at around 7pm in Aristotelous Square in the centre of the city of Thessaloniki, where the attack took place. The streets were filled with rainbow flags, protest chants and banners to denounce transphobia, homophobia, and fascism. The protest expanded, gaining momentum as the night carried on.

It went on mostly peaceful, despite clashes between protestors and the riot police present. An anonymous source who took part in the march informed PinkNews that: “There were several clashes between riot police and protesters as protesters marched through the centre of Thessaloniki where cops used tear gas and stun grenades to break up the demo.”

According to the same source, 3,000 to 4,000 people took part in the march to stand in solidarity with the transgender couple after the attack.


The events happened during the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival held from March 7 to March 17, which spotlights queer cinema with a tribute titled ‘Citizen Queer’. Alongside the tribute, Panayotis Evangelidis, whose work focuses on the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community, will be honoured with the Honorary Golden Alexander.

During the march, tension arose around Olympion Theater between protestors and police, where the red carpet for the premiere of Unclickable by Babis Makridiq took place. As part of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, moviegoers had to pass through the riot police and filmmakers and teams were escorted through side doors.

In reaction to the attack on the transgender couple, the festival released a statement on Facebook expressing their “anger and repugnance”.

It read, “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. 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.”


Attendees of the 26th edition of the festival also shared their outrage with Variety over Saturday’s attack.

Filmmaker and lesbian activist Maria Katsikadakou expressed her anger and terror, saying: “I thought some things would have changed, but now I wonder, have things changed?”

As Fil Ieropoulos’ documentary about Athens’s drag scene, Avant-Garde, is set to play this week at the festival, the filmmaker and artist shared that “Greek society is abusive. It is a society that feeds on hate, and this isn’t going to change any time soon”.

Only a few weeks before the attack, Greece became the first majoritarian Orthodox Christian country to legalise same-sex marriage. This historic passage was supported by the majority of Greeks and seen by the LGBTQ+ community and activists as major progress towards equal rights. The Orthodox Church is strongly opposing the law, as they expelled lawmakers supporting the bill.

Thessaloniki will host the 2024 Europride from June 21 to June 29, a pan-European LGBTQ+ event taking place in a different city every year. In reaction to the attack on the transgender couple, the European Pride Organisers Association released a statement emphasising the importance of Pride: “A month on from the jubilant celebrations of equal marriage in Greece, this serves as a reminder that there is still work to do, and this is why EuroPride in Thessaloniki in June will be so important.”

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