History of Queer Cyprus Association
We initially came together as Initiative Against Homophobia (HOKI). In 2007 HOKI applied to the local authorities in Northern Cyprus to become a fully established and recognised association.
In 2008 HOKI presented a request to repeal 171, 172, and 173 of Punishment Regulations-Chapter 154 along with a resolution to Fatma Ekenoglu, the head of the Parliamentary of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We stated the rules “provide the main framework for regulating discrimination against sexual orientation, and they have not been revised since British colonial time.”
In 2010 HOKI organized an international conference, “Solidarity and Networking Conference Cyprus 2010,” in co-operation with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) – Europe and hosted by the Journalists Union. The event emphasized that homosexuality is recognized as a crime and assessed this is a “violation of human rights.”
In July 2011 “two men were arrested and charged with ‘unnatural intercourse.'” following neighbour’s complaints, and accusations have been made that one of them was “bringing men home”. “The judge said they should be held in custody for a day.” HOKI publicised the case and others followed suit including LGBTQI organisations from Greece, Malta, Turkey, Albania and Cyprus, who supported HOKI and reiterated calls for a change in the law.
In a similar incident in October 2011, five men, one of whom was a former Republic of Cyprus, Minister of Finance, were arrested over a few days and detained on charges of “unnatural intercourse.” During remand hearings all the detainees apart from the former minister reported being beaten by the police. HOKI raised alarm at the arrests which led to protests from Members of the European Parliament, and international human rights organisations. HOKI also put forward that the Cyprus north media, in their reporting, normalized attitudes of hatred and fed “homophobic reports and comments to the public.” The story was covered by local and international media, raising the issue of the continued existence and use of the law. The men were released on bail. HOKI led a group of NGOs to declare “The current law in effect does not protect the rights of the children nor the rights of people’s control over their own bodies. It aims to protect the ‘morality’ of the society.”
Also in 2011 HOKI hosted ILGA-Europe’s family exhibition Different Families, Same Love in Nicosia (north). The opening included a range of media including state television with the exhibition receiving positive press coverage and provided a different and positive facets of the LGBT community to the general public.
In March 2012, HOKI has gone through a constitutional amendment and continues its work under its new name Queer Cyprus Association. QCA aims to promote equal rights for LGBTI people in Cyprus and to eliminate discriminations based on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and gender identity. We have been a member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) since 2011.
In August the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the north’s continued failure to repeal a law banning homosexuality, Queer Cyprus Association said Turkey must now defend the legacy of British colonialism at the ECHR.
On 27 January 2014, lawmakers in northern Cyprus abolished Criminal Code provisions which punished consensual sexual acts between adult men with five years of imprisonment and instead adopted new provisions that criminalised libel based on hate towards actual or perceived sexual orientation gender identity and expression psychological and economic violence based on these grounds as well as discrimination on these grounds in accessing public services. This led the first pride march in the northern part of Cyprus on 17th of May 2014 organised by Queer Cyprus . Subsequently, pride march in the north Cyprus have been organised by Queer Cyprus in 2015 as well.
On 11 November 2015, Queer Cyprus in cooperation with Cyprus Community Media Centre and Thomson Foundation started 2 years European Union financed Unspoken Project.On 17th of May 2016, following the open call from Kuir Cyprus together with Envision Diversity and MAGEM 17th May Organisation Committee was formed and 11 civil society organisations and Gender Equality Platform representing 21 political parties, trade unions, civil society organisations co-organised a series of events and a march during the week of International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia.