Posted on 11. May 2012 in Press


TGEU Statement

Greek Authorities Should Immediately End the Ongoing Human Rights Violations Against Sex Workers!

Transgender Europe (TGEU) is highly worried about the recent systematic human rights violations against sex workers in Greece. In a  Government authorized crackdown on hundreds of unlicensed brothels around Greece, the Greek police and the state-run Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) arrested hundreds of sex workers, submitted them to compulsory HIV testing and pressed criminal charges without recourse to due process. Further, the Greek Police published the full name, date of birth, nationality, photographs and medical record information of a dozen women with a positive HIV-status on a police website and in newspapers as a means of “punishment”. Many trans women are sex workers and TGEU has been informed that trans sex workers have also been subjected to the screening and exposure. Further similar screenings are announced for the next couple of weeks.

This action is without precedent in a modern European country; its resemblance with medieval witch hunts is unworthy of a EU member state.

We are shocked that Greek authorities deliberately play out already existing prejudices and enmity towards sex workers out casting them as scape goats in time of crisis. This discriminatory action hits trans persons particularly in a country that hardly recognize the existence let alone the human rights on trans persons.

TGEU research shows that trans persons are disproportionally affected by harassment and violence: nearly 79% in the EU have been a victim of harassment or violence in public. Greek Trans human rights activists worry about a possible conviction of a trans sex worker and a further deteriorating of the situation for trans people.

Forcefully subjecting a person to HIV testing, violates their bodily integrity, autonomy and free choice of health care. We strongly condemn the intentional violation of privacy by the police in its intend to “punish” those living with HIV by publishing their identities. This is not only contradictory to any public health standards but poses a direct threat to the individuals’ safety and security.

Greek authorities have violated European and international human rights standards they have signed up to, including ICCPR (Article 17), ICESCR (Article 12) and ECHR (Article 8) which all guarantee respect for private life, prohibit arbitrary interference to a person’s privacy and obliges states to respect human dignity. Moreover, Greece signed up to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers LGBT recommendation (2010(5)) to promote equality and non-discrimination of all transgender persons in Greece.

TGEU strongly urges the Greek Government to:

  • Immediately end the forceful crack-downs, health testing, and violation of privacy.
  • Investigate the aforementioned actions by police and KEENOL and hold those responsible accountable
  • Take concrete steps towards decent living and working conditions for all sex workers, irrespective of HIV-status, origin or gender identity.
  • Implement concrete measures towards equality and social inclusion for all trans people in employment, access to goods & services and legal gender recognition.
  • Provide for consensual and effective health care accessible for all who need it, irrespective of their legal status.
  • Decriminalise sex work through effective legislation in parallel with the demands and needs of sex workers.

Transgender Europe (TGEU) condemns the actions of the relevant Greek authorities and calls on the European and the international community to react against the ongoing severe human rights violations against sex workers in Greece.