End Systematic Discrimination Against Transgender Women

Hands in Handcuffs

Target: President of Greece, Karolos Papoulias

Goal: Put an end to unjust and discriminatory arrests of transgender citizens and forced HIV tests

A recent report by the Greek Transgender Support Association revealed that transgender people in the city of Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, have been systematically discriminated against and harassed by police officials. According to the report, transgender people are arrested on a daily basis, and are often detained without being charged for hours at a time. Such instances have been occurring daily since May 2013, but the first report of these types of unjust arrests dates back to August of 2012 when Athens police officers arrested 25 transgender women in a single night. The women were forced to undergo mandatory HIV screenings, and were then released without being charged.

In Thessaloniki, officers carry out systematic arrests of transgender women under the guise of “protecting public health.” They site identification verification and claim that the transgender women are sex workers, force them to undergo HIV tests, and then release the women without charge. In some cases, women are arrested without any reason at all, such as a group of three transgender women who were pulled over while driving and arrested without any explanation whatsoever. Often, the women are threatened and told that they will be sued for disrespect when they are not compliant or protest unfair detainment.

Clearly, these sweeping arrests are not actually in support of public health, as officers claim, but are a disturbing example of systematic discrimination against transgender Greek citizens. Certain accounts reveal that transgender women were warned by officers that if they “did not return to normal” after they were released, they would face legal persecution and continued harassment. Such remarks reveal a pervading homophobia and negative attitude toward transgender people. Furthermore, many of the women who were subjected to forced HIV tests had their personal information publically broadcast in the media, causing humiliation and further discrimination.

Many Greek citizens have decried these clearly prejudiced acts, calling for immediate reform. The provision for legal forced HIV screenings was recently suspended, and then reinstated by Greece’s new health minister, Adonis Georgiadis. Urge the President of Greece, Karolos Papoulias, to work towards reform and end the unjust arrests and forced HIV testing of transgender women throughout the country.


Dear President Karolos Papoulias,

In recent years, police officials have carried out systematic oppression toward transgender people. Transgender women have been repeatedly arrested due not to public health concerns, but simply because they are transgender. These women are detained, often for hours, without cause, subjected to forced HIV screenings, and then released without being charged. This type of harassment is inexcusable and reveals a prevailing homophobic attitude, all while blatantly violating basic human rights.

These systematic, prejudiced arrests must come to an end. I strongly urge you to push for reform, and stop police officers from wrongly arresting and detaining transgender women.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr

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