Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday veered away from the ubiquitous political dialogue and banter that envelopes his position and delved directly into the often fierce “cultural” debate, speaking almost two weeks after his government tabled and ratified a contentious bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.
His comments during an interview as part of a conference in Athens entitled “The Upfront Initiative”, several days after disturbances in central Thessaloniki on Saturday evening commenced when groups of teens singled out and began harassing a pair of individuals described as transgender. A riotous situation followed, with police intervening and making nearly a dozen arrests.
“First of all, what we heard a short time ago was correct, namely, that equality in civil marriage doesn’t automatically lead us to a better world in terms of essentially eliminating all discrimination and all prejudices. However, it’s a very important step in the right direction,” Mitsotakis said.
He appeared in the interview at the Athens Conservatory with Giorgos Kapoutzidis, a well-known local actor and screenwriter who has very publicly promoted a pro-LGBTQ image since coming out as a homosexual several years ago.
“On the other hand, it’s clear there’s increased tension in society today. There’s a lot of rage and anger; there is violence, especially among younger ages,” Mitsotakis acknowledged.
“All of us felt shock and anger from the images we saw in Thessaloniki, which force us to not put our heads in the sand and say ‘I’ve had enough’…We achieved certain important things, let’s go further, but let’s also realize that this problem has deep roots, which often, unfortunately, manifests itself against those whom we consider different. I wish I had an easy answer to this problem, but surely the solution isn’t only policing and punishing those responsible with the strictest anti-racist law. All this will happen, but we have to dig a little deeper and understand what it is that is causing these types of reactions.”