Queer Cyprus Association will hold a panel entitled “Hate Can Change Too” for the third anniversary of the changing of the Penal Code.

Articles which considered homosexual relations between men as a crime within Chapter 154 of the Penal Code were changed 3 years ago on January 27. The law was changed in a way which positioned hate, humiliation and insults towards an individual or group on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity as an offence and doing so via social media including press, broadcasts and internet is now considered a crime. Additionally, inflicting psychological or economic violence or discrimination in access to public services due to prejudice or hate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity have also been regulated as a crime.

Although changing the code was a significant step, it is an undeniable truth that discriminatory violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals still exists today. The changed articles are insufficient for the penalization of hate speech. As an association, we experienced this after the increased visibility following the events in the scope of 17th May International Day Against Homophobia and during the billboard awareness campaign which simply expressed the existence of homosexuality. Considering individual and organizational aspects, and the negligence of authorities responsible for implementing the law, it is a necessity to tackle and understand homophobia and transphobia in the interrelated context of hate, violence and crime on both a legal and social level.

The change in the Penal Code is one of the most important outcomes of our struggle for existence and liberation. However, our experiences show that there is still a long way to go. Our requests are clear; individuals should not be insulted, fired from a job, assaulted, raped, denied medical attention, forced to live in a closet for loving a person of the same sex, for defining themselves different from the sex assigned at birth or for not complying gender binary stereotypes; everyone should have the right to be themselves. Our struggle is for a liberated existence free from bias and hate.

On the third anniversary of changing the Penal Code which led to the removal of homosexual relationships among men from being a crime, the Queer Cyprus Association is finalizing its campaign with the slogans #27ocakda (#on27january),  #nefretdegismedi (#hatehasntchange), #nedegisdi (#whathaschanged) with a panel entitled “Hate Can Change Too” which will be held at Union of Chambers of Turkish Cypriot Engineer and Architect building on January 27th, 2017 at 19:00. In this panel, topics such as countering hate speech, hate crime and discrimination, and legal and practical steps that LGBTI individuals can take to avoid any right violations will be discussed.

The panel, which will be moderated by Queer Cyprus activist Faika Deniz Paşa, will begin with Kaos GL Associations advocate Hayriye Kara’s presentation on the legal aspects of hate speech and discrimination, and continue with Dayanışma activist Mustafa Öngün’s presentation on the sociological aspect of the relationship between human rights and law. Finally, Queer Cyprus activist Filiz Bilen will explain the process starting prior to the change of the Penal Code and emphasize the impact it has had on our lives.

Laws have been changed, now it’s time to implement them and avoid violating them…

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