Athens Gay Pride remembers activist beaten to death

Athens (AFP) –


People celebrating Gay Pride in Athens Saturday paid tribute to an LGBTI activist beaten to death last year, with marchers scattering glitter and confetti at the spot where he was killed.

Several thousand people turned out for the 15th annual march, which was dedicated to the memory of Zacharias Kostopoulos, also known by his drag stage name Zackie Oh.

Kostopoulos was an active member of the local gay community and also campaigned for the rights of HIV-positive people.

The 33-year-old died on September 21 after being kicked by the owner of a jewellery shop and a passer-by as he tried to get out of the shop's shattered display window.

Video footage posted online showed Kostopoulos trying to run away before collapsing and being handcuffed by police. He was declared dead at a local hospital.

Four police officers, the owner of the jewellery shop and a second person have all been charged with inflicting "fatal body injuries".

The route of Saturday's march passed the shop where Kostopoulos was attacked.

A few people scattered glitter and confetti at the spot, while someone wrote "Murderers" in pink paint on the pavement in front of the jewellery shop.

The march ended in the capital's Syntagma Square, which filled up with rainbow flags, where government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos addressed the crowd.

"This year, the community tries to heal its wounds caused by the vicious murder of Zach and calls for the punishment of his assassins," he said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted on Saturday: "Every human being is entitled to all rights and freedoms, without any discrimination whatsoever."

Police sources said more than 7,000 turned out for the event.

Amnesty International has denounced the "lynching" and "murder" of Kostopoulos and criticised the violence of the police arrest.

It has also suggested that some early reports of the case were coloured by anti-gay prejudice.

Homophobic attacks are not rare in Greece where the Greek Orthodox Church, officially frowns upon same-sex relations.

The civil union of same-sex couples was only approved by the Greek parliament in 2015.