Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Greece in shock

The most recent shockwave for Greece was the earthquake on Sunday afternoon. The Peloponnese, the area where last year wild fires caused disaster, was hit with deadly force: the main quake of 6.5 on the Richter scale caused two deaths, some 200 injured and hundreds of houses were badly damaged or destroyed. Many people fled their homes because the quake was long and frightening. Even President Karamanlis came back from his trip to Austria.

The quake was not felt here on the island of Lesvos. Daily life went on as usual. But today Lesvos could cause quite a different shock: today the court will start to hear the case between the Lesvorian Dimitri Lambrou and the 'Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece'. It's about the name lesbian. According to Mr Lambrou women from Lesvos cannot call themselves Lesbian, unless they want to be seen as women who love other women (see: Lesvians against Lesbians).

If Mr Lambrou gets his way, lesbians will not be called lesbian anymore in Greece. Even though the lawyers may agree with Mr Lambrou, I'm sure the international community will never agree to that. They will only make the island llok foolish.

If the organization of homosexuals and lesbians get the right to continue using the name lesbian, this minority group will have won a battle. They have a hard life in Greece because homosexuality is a taboo subject in most families. By protests and fighting for their rights the homosexual and lesbian groups only slowly slowly get more respect in the country where the papas rule the social life.

Last week there was a courageous man that stood up for the rights of homosexuals. In his small Town Hall Tasos Aliferis, Mayor of the little Island of Tilos (near Rhodes), first married two men and then two women. Immediately, representatives of the government and the Church tried to get the marriages annulled. But according to Tasos Aliferas it is written nowhere in the law that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. When Aliferas was summoned by the prosecutor of Rhodes, he refused to come, just as he refused to annul the marriages.

It is mainly the Orthodox Church that keeps the Greeks from becoming a little more modern. They try to keep the country demure and conservative by closing art exhibitions when the art works are too challenging, by removing books from the shops, as they did a few years ago with a comic strip book about the life of Jesus, and by being radically against homosexuality.

99% of Greeks call themselves Orthodox and no politician dares to separate the State and the Church. In this way the Church maintain their great power in Greece, especially in social affairs like the above named case of homosexual marriages and who knows, also about the name lesbian.

Many scandals about Orthodox priests that occasionally make the front pages of the papers do not lead to a diminution of faith in Greeks. And if you think that the Orthodox Church is a peaceful community of priests and monks, you are wrong. In the monastic state of Mount Athos, where thousand year old monasteries are and where for a hundred years no women was allowed, the atmosphere rumbles as much as the earth shook last Sunday in the Peloponnese.

Not only was the monastic community recently shaken by the arrival of 5 refugee women who landed on their Male Empire, last week the Church also sought assistance from the government in a row between monks that started nearly a hundred years ago.

Rebellious monks live in one of the oldest monasteries of Mount Athos, the Esphigmenou monastery, and they don't accept the 'modern' Orthodox Church and keep on demanding changes. They believe that there is only one and true belief, the one of the Orthodox Church, while the Greek Orthodox Church recognize other religions and is part of the World Council of Churches.

According to the prosecutor in Thessaloniki, there is only one way to stop these rebels: throw them out of their monastery. And therefore he asked the government for manpower... (see: http://www.esphigmenou.com/)

The Orthodox Church doesn't tolerate homosexuals and lesbians, nor rebellious monks. I wonder if they will use their power to help mister Lambrou, a man so conservative, that he ought to go and fight with the rebelling monks in the Esphigmenou monastery...

Copyright © Smitaki 2008

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