Saturday night in Athens saw the central square of Syntagma fill with rainbow colours, banners calling for equality and inclusion and tens of thousands of participants at the Athens Pride march.

The march which started at 7pm in front of the Greek Parliament marked the culmination of a week of events in celebration of LGBT visibility.

This year’s theme, ‘Unconditional’ called for equality in legal and social terms, including in marriage and family.

The event marks the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City in 1969, widely seen as the birth of the movement to secure equality for LGBT people. Photo: AMNA

“We can enter into a cohabitation agreement, but not marriage. We can have children, but only as individuals […] We can access education, but the curricula do not contain us. We can feel safe, but only if we hide or remain invisible […] We have the right to live enjoying the rights and fulfilling the obligations we share with the rest of the world. We and our families claim real equality without “yes, but”, with security and inclusion, without conditions and asterisks. Unconditionally.” reads an excerpt of the organisers’ message for the festival running in its 17th year in the Greek capital.

Representatives from across the political spectrum made their support for the event known by their attendance and posts on social media.

Deputy Minister for Culture and Sports Nicholas Yatromanolakis was among those representing the government, while Opposition Leader Alexis Tsipras, PASOK-KINAL’s Andreas Spyropoulos and MeRA25’s Yianis Varoufakis were also present.

Political parties, including SYRIZA and PASOK-KINAL had stalls set up at Syntagma Square during Athens Pride celebrations this week.

Participants at the march came from all walks of life. But despite the diversity of outfits representing different groups, one was missing, as police officers participated without wearing their uniforms.

Athens Pride celebrations culminated in the annual march in front of the Greek Parliament. Photo: AAP via EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

Pride organisers said the decision was made considering the LGBT+ community’s strained relations with the Greek police, in the wake of activist Zak Kostopoulos’ murder in 2018.

The decision was respected by the European LGBT Police Association who met in Athens on Wednesday, but not everyone was satisfied.

“Neither the police nor Pride want us. We are out of everywhere,” president of Police Action Michalis Lolis, who identifies as a gay police officer said.

People sing and dance as they participate in the annual Gay Pride parade known as ‘Athens Pride’ in Athens, Greece, 18 June 2022. Phot: Vasilis Rebapis/Eurokinissi.

Following the march, the line-up of celebrations included Helena Paparizou and Onirama among other artists performing and featured popular TV personality Giorgos Kapoutzides.