Thessaloniki Pride, two days of events celebrating the the gay community and calling for equal rights for homosexuals, such as the right to same-sex marriage, is set to begin on Friday afternoon amid controversy sparked by the northern port city's leading cleric.
Thessaloniki Bishop Anthimos earlier this week described homosexuality as a “perversion of the human existence” and attacked the annual festival as a “disgrace.”
“Do not give dogs what is holy,” he said quoting the Gospel of Matthew.
His statement prompted a response from Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, who said that while he sees “eye to eye on many issues with the bishop," on others "we just don’t share the same view and we don’t cooperate.”
The Gay Pride parade is due to kick off at 5 p.m. outside the city center's emblematic White Tower, leading up to a large street party. Some 10,000 people are expected to participate
Religious groups, meanwhile, have organized a protest to coincide with the launch of the event, at the city's main church, Aghios Dimitrios.