Despite angry protests from the head of Thessaloniki’s Greek Orthodox Church, the 3rd Thessaloniki Gay Pride festival and parade went off without incident. Police, who estimated the crowd at more than 6,000 people, heavily guarded the crowd from onlookers and protestors, which included conservative politicians, clergy and members of “Golden Dawn,” the Neo Nazi political party that is outspokenly anti-gay. A sign welcomed parade goers stating “No to the promotion of perversion.”
Taking part was Thessaloniki’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the top diplomats from foreign countries, including consuls general of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland and Portugal.
U.S. Consul Robert P. Sanders carried a banner that read “Diplomats for Thessaloniki Pride.”
The mayor said he and diplomats took part this year “because we support diversity and freedom of choice, both in sex and religion.”
The march again was condemned by the local Orthodox church, whose leader, Metropolitan Anthimos, described it as a “promotion of perversion.”