Monday, June 30, 2003

Church accuses Athens of promoting sexual tourism

ATHENS — The Greek Orthodox Church on Monday accused Athens' authorities of promoting "sexual tourism" for the 2004 Olympic Games in reaction to a proposal to tone down prostitution laws.

The church said in a statement they were surprised and saddened by the proposal which they claimed was not compatible with the values the games were supposed to represent.

The church, which is not separated from the state, demanded authorities should withdraw the proposition which they said was like promoting sexual tourism and would be a boost to the sex trade, including with minors.

City authorities had asked the government at the beginning of June to look at softening the strict legislation on prostitution, which is legal in Greece.

This attitude justified, the church added, the American State Department's decision to to put Greece on the blacklist of countries accused of slackness in the fight against the trade of human beings for sex.

City official Ira Valsamaki, in charge of the matter, told AFP however that the intention was not to allow free rein to prostitution but to fix new measures because it was generally believed the current law would not be adhered to during the Games, which traditionally attract a lot of prostitutes.

The law, passed in 1999, limits prostition to brothels where only three people can work providing they are not near churches or schools.

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Created: January 8, 2004
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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