Thousands attend EuroPride parade in Greek city amid heavy police presence

THESSALONIKI, Greece — About 15,000 people attended the annual EuroPride parade Saturday, police said, in support of the LGBTQ+ community in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki amid a heavy police presence.

The parade, whose motto is “Persevere, Progress, Prosper,” was staged on the ninth and last day of a series of events across the city. It was to be followed later Saturday by a concert and a series of parties.

“This participation from across Europe sends a message,” parade participant Michalis Filippidis told the Associated Press. “It is very, very good. We are all united like a fist and, despite many things happening, we are all here to fight for our rights.”

Participants marched through the city center, ending up at the city’s waterfront, at the statue of Alexander the Great, the most famous ruler of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia. The nearby White Tower, once part of the city’s fortifications but now a standalone monument, emblematic of the city, was dressed in the colors of the rainbow.

There was a heavy police presence to prevent counterdemonstrations. In the end, police said, 15 people were detained for shouting obscenities at parade participants and, in one case, trying to throw eggs at them. Police prevented them from getting too close to parade participants.

Some Greek participants in the parade chanted at the counterdemonstrators: “For every racist and homophobe, there is a place in Thermaikos,” the gulf on whose shores the city is built.

A 34-year-old man who had called for an anti-gay demonstration, despite the police’s ban on such an action, was arrested and will appear in court Monday on charges of inciting disobedience and disturbing the peace. He was visited in prison by the head of Niki, an ultra-religious political party, one of three far-right parties that elected representatives to the European Parliament in elections earlier in June.

Nationalism and religious fervor are more pronounced in Thessaloniki and other northern Greek areas than the rest of the country. The far right’s strong showing in elections was in part due to passage earlier in the year of a law legalizing same-sex marriage. The law, strongly backed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was opposed by nearly a third of the lawmakers from his conservative New Democracy party, and was backed by much of the left opposition, except for the Communists, who voted against it.

The EuroPride parade had strong official backing. The city was a co-sponsor and several foreign ambassadors attended.

“I am proud to be here … for EuroPride 2024,” said U.S. Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis. “This is about human dignity, this is about acceptance, this is about love, this is about equality. And, frankly, we need more love, more acceptance, more kindness in this world.”

“I am here to show our support for diversity and equality for all. You are who you are, and you can love who you love,” said Dutch Ambassador to Greece Susanna Terstal.

“I welcome the ambassadors … and all the participants to Thessaloniki, a multicolored, friendly city that considers human rights non-negotiable,” said Mayor Stelios Angeloudis.

Next year’s EuroPride will take place in Lisbon. 

leave a reply: