Greek LGBTQ+ rights: ‘It was a lynching. No other way to describe it’

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12/20/2020

Days after his death in the heart of Athens, the image of Zak Kostopoulos began to appear across the city centre, on buildings and nondescript office blocks, the marble steps of neoclassical mansions, walls and columns. On Gladstonos Street there were also words, some sprayed, some stencilled, some handwritten, but all amounting to the same thing: a memorial to a man who dared to be different. It was here that the LGBTQ+ activist, drag artist and columnist was killed in broad daylight on September 21st, 2018. Informally renamed Zackie Oh after Kostopoulos’s alter ego, the pedestrian sidestreet is now a symbol of the fight for justice in a case that has not only exposed profound homophobia in Greece but a culture of “abuse and impunity” in its police force. Kostopoulos, a vocal campaigner for HIV-positive people like himself, was 33 when he was killed in a jewellery shop on Gladstonos. How he got trapped in the store remains unknown. What is clear from video clips that later emerged of his death is the violence that he endured. “It was a lynching. There’s no other way to describe it,” said Philippos Karagiorgis, who is seen in the footage, arms outstretched, attempting to stop the attack. “He was . . . on all fours like a baby, desperately trying to crawl through the shattered glass of the shop’s window. Every time he tried to get up, these two men would kick him in the head, again and again.”

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