Thursday

25th May 2017

Focus

Greek MP hurls homophobic insults at Luxembourg PM

  • Rainbow flag at Greek pride march (Photo: Ira Gelb)

A Greek MP waged a homophobic twitter war on Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel on Thursday (28 August), prompting a backlash on the social media site.

"From a Europe of nation states to a Europe of ... faggots!! The prime minister of Luxemburg is engaged with his darling!!" Nikos Nikolopoulos, the president of the conservative Greek Christian-Democratic party, tweeted.

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Last week, Bettel revealed that he and his partner would take advantage of Luxembourg’s recently adopted gay marriage law, which comes into effect in January 2015.

The Nikolopoulos tweet was forwarded to Bettel who later replied: “Hello, I heard you want to tell me something, but I don’t speak Greek. Sorry”.

Nikopoulos was bombarded with crticisim on the social media site.

One user, Stefanos Livos, said “Not all Greeks are … morons like @NikNikolopoulos”.

Dimitris Kourkoulas, Greece’s deputy foreign minister, tweeted: “@Xavier_Bettel Dear PM,thanks for helping us unveiling the dirty face of some of our ‘politicians’.”

Bettel himself added: “Relations between GR & LUX and with @PrimeministerGR are perfect and won't be affected by the comments of an isolated politician”.

But Nikopoulos posted another, scarcely more temperate message: "After the sleazy attacks and barrage of insults I respond: 'From a Europe of nations to a Europe of fags' … In other words those who provoke shame.”

Nikopoulos is a former deputy labour minister in Antonis Samaras’s government and was considered a close ally of the Greek prime minister before resigning in opposition to the terms of Greece’s bailout.

He is also well known for his outspoken views on gay rights.

The MP is currently campaigning against an anti-hate crime bill which is set to include tougher sentences for those who commit homophobic or racist acts.

The bill “will be the end for the institution of the family”, Nikopoulos has warned.

Greece has seen a surge in homophobic attacks in the past year, with the increase blamed, in part, on the rise of fascist party Golden Dawn.

Bettel, along with Belgium’s Elio Di Rupo, are the only two openly gay EU leaders.

A recent survey by Ilga-Europe, a rights NGO, noted that countries in east and south-east Europe tended to scored the lowest in terms of pro-gay rights legislation.

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New European Commission proposals to put an end to discrimination on the basis of age, disability, sexual orientation or creed have been given a lukewarm welcome by civil liberties groups, who say prejudice against same-sex couples who wish to get married is not adequately covered.

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Gay people in Serbia held a march in Belgrade on Sunday in what has been described as a “milestone” in the country's history.

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