Victim of homophobic attack in Athens alleges police officers are responsible

Nikos Sofianos alleges that police officers began making homophobic comments and mocking him before attacking him.

Greek police officers

Nikos Sofianos, one of the owners of gay magazine Antivirus in Greece, fell victim to a violent homophobic assault reportedly by police officers last night. Sofianos was walking with his partner, Dimitris, while holding hands near the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Sofianos alleges that the police officers began making homophobic comments and mocking them. Then one shouted, “Look at those lads passing by. They look like something else” while the other laughed “Pure men”.

The couple asked if they were referring to them, and the one policeman replied “Yes, is there a problem?”. Nikos replied: “Yes if you are referring to us, of course, there is a problem” and he alleges that the police officer then headbutted him.

Nikos fell on the arms of his partner, or he would have crashed to the ground. Sofianos says the second police officer tried unsuccessfully to attack him as well. The couple got scared and left the place running. The two policemen shouted at them, “You better leave because we don’t like your faces here”.

Nikos and Dimitris went to the police department straight away, but the two police officers haven’t been identified yet. The couple says they are in shock and feel shattered that something like this can take place in a European city in 2019. They are both determined to bring justice and send a message that Greek police needs to be reformed.

The incident took place less than a year after gay activist Zak Kostopoulos was beaten to death.

Initially, mainstream Greek media tried to frame Kostopoulos as a drug addict and thief who died after attempting to break into a jewellery shop. However, eye witness video footage shows the brutal beating of Kostopoulos by two men in the street, while a crowd of people look on.

When police arrived, the beating continued as Kostopoulos was violently arrested. The activist died from his injuries on the way to the hospital.

So far, two men and four police officers have been charged for the death of Zak Kostopoulos.

However, Kostopoulos’ friends and family, along with human rights groups, are calling for more information about his death.

Amnesty International’s petition refers to the disturbing dissemination of Kostopoulos’ death into Greece’s news outlets:

“Zak’s killing and the initial reporting of the case, filled with stigmatising remarks and reproduction of fake news, revealed the deep prejudice that exists in parts of society. This must not be tolerated.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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