Call from Initiative Against Homophobia

On 20th July, we experienced yet another example of dominance over our bodies. Two men were arrested by police force on the grounds that they were performing “unnatural relations”, following a complaint of their neighbors. Chapter 154 of the Penal Code, forbids the sex life, the most private part of a person’s life regardless of their sexual orientation, under the pretence that it is “unnatural”.

Since 2007, as Initiative Against Homophobia, we have been working towards changing article 171 on homosexual relations within Chapter 154 of the Penal Code in order to ensure that legislators regulate the article in line with contemporary human rights. We are sad to say that the proposal for changing the Penal Code which we have presented to the Speakership in 2008 and 2010 has not been received by the Law Committee. Although the legislators and jurisdiction have expressed that the article is not actively used, the recent event indicates otherwise. We have witnessed that an allegedly unused law can result in a nightmare in terms of human rights even in the 21st century. The statements of the TRNC Government following the police violence during the recent protests showcases the lack of “democracy” and the ignorance towards human rights. Considering that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the category of diseases, we condemn and find it extremely unethical for the Ministry of Health to present homosexuality as a threat by providing confidential health-related information to the public under the disguise of “public interest”, making statements which may lead to the assumption that AIDS is the disease of homosexuals and showcasing the arrested individuals as a threat to the society.

We believe that media institutions, which expose the identities of people who are not proven to be guilty and make tabloid news by using painful events, should fulfill their responsibilities in a lawful way and also comply to the ethical values of journalism. Media institutions should bring an end to harming individuals by exposing their private lives and they should pay more attention to Gender Equality.

We at the Initiative Against Homophobia believe that the most recent event has once again shown that Article 171 of Chapter 154 of the Penal Code must be changed urgently. We invite the TRNC Government and political parties to urgently regulate the law, which has been transferred to Supreme Court, in line with our proposal on changing the Penal Code and to regulate laws which are in parallel to fundamental human rights in order to remove TRNC from the list of European countries which execute state-sponsored homophobia. We believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights for each and every individual living in this country.

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