INTERVIEW-Greece’s first gay minister hopes appointment helps erode homophobia

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01/11/2021

LONDON, Jan 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Greece’s first openly gay minister said encountering homophobia in public life was “a given”, but hoped his appointment to the conservative government would make it easier for LGBT+ people to tackle discrimination. Nicholas Yatromanolakis was named deputy minister for contemporary culture after being promoted last week in a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis aimed at boosting his government’s image as COVID-19 pummels the economy. Yatromanolakis, 45, said he had often been discouraged from seeking elected office or prominent roles due to his “profile”, with some people saying the most he could aspire to was political consulting work. “All LGBT people have at some point in their lives had to work in environments that were not entirely supportive or understanding of who they are,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call. He recounted being told, “Hush, darling,” on live TV and receiving condescending looks and smirks throughout his time in public life. “You can’t let that bother you, because it’s your life … and you have to do what you believe is the right thing,” he said, adding that he had sometimes been mistaken for a LGBT+ activist if he spoke about gay rights. Still, Yatromanolakis said he would discuss LGBT+ issues with colleagues in the cabinet – at least one of whom voted against a law allowing same-sex civil partnerships five years ago, saying he would “not shy away from it if it comes up”.

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