Queer Cyprus Association Calls TRNC Parliament to End State Sponsored Homophobia

We, Queer Cyprus Association, are publishing a press release on the occasion of 17th May International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

On May 17, 1990,  the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the disease classifications; and since 2004 this event has been celebrated on 17th May as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The 23th anniversary of the removal of homosexuality from disease classifications gives us the opportunity to emphasize the significance of fighting against homophobia and transphobia, and a chance to elaborate the fact that LGBT rights are human rights. However it is important to underline that LGBT rights are still being violated in various places all over the world. In the context of North Cyprus, by using article 171, Chapter 154 of the penal code which is a legacy from the British colonial period stating that sexual relations between men are “not natural”, gay men can be imprisoned up to 5 years.

Queer Cyprus Association, established as Initiative Against Homophobia, has worked with other sensitive organizations and individuals in order to change the law and to terminate state sponsored homophobia. The existing homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and sexism in society places women and LGBT individuals in disadvantaged positions; and it is unacceptable that the government, aside from being unable to prevent such situations, fuels them with existing laws. It was pleasing to finally witness the parliament’s approval of the penal code change resolution and the legalization of sexual relations between two men; however, this is insufficient. We imagine a future in which, LGBT individuals are not discriminated, ill-treated, degraded or mocked based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; they do not fear lose of reputation in their occupational and social circles or alienated by their inner circle or the society; they are not labelled as “pervert”, “unfit”, “ill”, “sinner” or “immoral”; their relationships are recognized by the government and they are provided with social rights. Our struggle aims at accomplishing these goals.

It is unrealistic to think that the society’s homophobic attitudes would come to an end once homosexuality was legalized. In order to prevent violations, hate speech or hate crimes against LGBT individuals, the government must pass a law on hate crimes and discrimination. In consideration of 17th May International Day Against Homophobia, we call for the parliament to end the shame of being the single country which penalizes homosexuality in Europe and make legal regulations which penalizes hate speech and hate crime offenses including discriminatory and alienating actions, bullying and defamation against LGBT individuals based on their gender identities.

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