A former Greek soccer star was sentenced to 10 months in prison for a 2017 social media post that asserted “God created Adam and Eve” in response to a law proposing a redefinition of gender identity.
Vasilis Tsiartas, 49, a former midfielder for AEK Athens F.C. and the Greek national team, was sentenced by the Single-Member Misdemeanor Court of Athens and fined $5,165 (€5,000) for the post, according to The Times, a Greek media outlet.
Prior to the passing of a bill that would have lowered the age requirement for legally changing one’s gender identity to 15 years old, Tsiartas wrote on Facebook that he hoped “the first sex changes are carried out on the children of those who ratified this abomination.”
Tsiartas also wrote, “Legitimize pedophiles, too, to complete the crimes.”
In a later post, he commented, “God created Adam and Eve.”
On Nov. 4, Tsiartas said he would appeal both the sentence and the fine.
The conviction marks “the first condemnation of publicly inciting violence or hatred (primarily) because of gender identity,” according to lawyer Vassilis Sotiropoulos.
The Transgender Support Association (SYD), which brought the suit against Tsiartas, said the ruling was “particularly important for the transgender community.”
Late SYD President Marina Galanou initially brought the suit on the basis of Greek “anti-racist” law against both Tsiartas and others who reportedly “threatened [Galanou’s] physical well-being or life and had used vulgar language to degrade,” the trans activist claimed, according to Greek media outlet themanews.com.
Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith condemned the bill, which became law in October 2017.
The law allows people to change the sex listed on official documents with a court ruling, and without requiring medical tests or sterilization.
Prior to the bill’s passage, anyone seeking to change their identity from their birth sex to their chosen gender identity had to be diagnosed with a “gender identity disorder” and have their reproductive organs removed, a practice condemned by human rights campaigners.
Considered to be one of the greatest Greek soccer players of all time, Tsiartas was a key player in Greece’s title run at the UEFA Euro 2004 and was known for his incredible technical ability.
From a statistical standpoint, Tsiartas had his best season as a pro in 1995-’96, when he became the Greek championship’s top scorer with 26 goals in 33 league matches.
Tsiartas’ case evoked a similar fight involving a Christian physician in England who refused to mis-identify trans-identified individuals by using the wrong pronouns.
In 2018, Dr. David Mackereth was working in Britain’s Department for Work and Pensions as a disability assessor. During his training, a senior employee told Mackereth and others they should always address trans-identified individuals by their preferred pronoun, “in line with the department’s policy.”
When Mackereth refused, citing his deeply-held Christian beliefs, he was informed that he could risk losing his job. A few days later, he was fired when he reiterated that he couldn’t follow the policy in good conscience.
Mackereth appealed his termination to an employment tribunal, saying that his rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion had been violated. He told the panel that for religious reasons, he could not refer to “any 6-foot tall bearded man” as a “she” or a “her.”
He then cited Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”