North Cyprus: Withdraw the charges of the arrested men

North Cyprus: Withdraw the charges of the men arrested for anti-gay article 171; remove the last article criminalizing homosexuality in Europe.

On 14, 15 and 16 October 2011, two groups of men were arrested based on article 171 of Chapter 154 of the Penal Code (1929), North Cyprus’ anti-gay law. Article 171 which was regulated during the British administration is the single legal provision which criminalizes sexual relations between consented adult men and may lead to a prison sentence of up to 5 years. Article 171, criminalizing consented same-sex sexual relations, was repealed by The Republic of Cyprus Parliament in 1998.

In the case Modinos vs Cyprus (1993), the European Court of Human Rights’ decision was that Article 171 clearly violates the Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of European Human Rights Convention. This decision is consistent with the court’s previous decisions –  Dudgeon vs United Kingdom (1981); Norris vs Ireland (1989). Also, as mentioned in United Nations Human Rights Committee’s case Toonen vs. Australia (1994), this also violates Article 17 (protecting against interference to private or family life) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It has been claimed that at least 2 of the 7 arrested people have been subjected to maltreatment under police arrest. This should be urgently and independently questioned and the responsible parties should be put on trial immediately.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Initiative Against Homophobia call for the charges of the arrested individuals to be dropped urgently and for the repeal of Article 171.

Nicola Duckworth
Director of Europe and Central Asia Program
Amnesty International

Graeme Reid
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program
Human Rights Watch

Evelyne Paradis
Executive Director

Jessica Stern
Program Director 
the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission – IGLHRC

Reşat Şaban
Administrative Board Member
Initiative Against Homophobia

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