Greek bishop sentenced for inciting violence against gays

By AFP
Published: January 28, 2019
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The 79-year-old cleric was charged with public incitement to violence and abuse of ecclesiastical duties. PHOTO COURTESY: PAPAASPOST

The 79-year-old cleric was charged with public incitement to violence and abuse of ecclesiastical duties. PHOTO COURTESY: PAPAASPOST

ATHENS: A Greek Orthodox bishop has been sentenced on appeal to seven months in prison for inciting violence against homosexuals and abuse of his office, Greek media reported on Monday.

Bishop Amvrosios, whose name is Athanassios Lenis, labelled gay people the “dregs of society” and called on his followers to “spit on” and “blacken” them in a written address in 2015.

The 79-year-old cleric had been charged with public incitement to violence and abuse of ecclesiastical duties, but was found not guilty and released by a court in the Peloponnesian town of Aigio in March last year.

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The case was the first of its kind in Greece for a representative of the influential Orthodox church.

Prosecutors appealed the original verdict to the criminal court in Aigio which handed down Monday’s sentence of seven months in prison, with three months suspended.

The bishop has been known to publicly appear alongside leaders of Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and his release sparked criticism from human rights groups who on Monday hailed the new verdict as a positive step in the fight against hate speech.

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