(Nicosia, 16.12.2021) The LGBTI+ in Freedom from Exploitation (LIFE) project, funded by the European Union under the “Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings” grant scheme and implemented by the Queer Cyprus Association in cooperation with KAOS-GL, published Mapping Study on the Situation of LGBTI+ Sex Workers in the northern part of Cyprus.
Queer Cyprus Association has been contributing to the struggle of LGBTI+s who are trafficked in the northern part of Cyprus for the last 2 and half years with the LGBTI+ in Freedom from Exploitation (LIFE) project, whose slogan is “for Cyprus where Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and beyond (LGBTI+) will be free from exploitation”. As part of its anti-trafficking efforts, the project published ‘Mapping Study on the Situation of LGBTI+ Sex Workers in the northern part of Cyprus’. The study was prepared at the intersection of nightclubs, international students, the Turkish Cypriot Community, civil society, local bodies and legal local text in order to reveal the vulnerabilities of LGBTI+s to human trafficking on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and characteristics.
‘LGBTI+’s, Invisible Victims of Human Trafficking’
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2020 Trafficking in Persons report showed that by 2018 there were around 48,578 victims of trafficking (from 135 countries). 20% of these victims are male, 46% female, 19% girls and 15% boys. Pursuant to the report, sexual exploitation is on top of the forms of exploitation (50%) followed by forced labour (38%) and other forms of exploitation. The report does not cover any particular statistics on LGBTI+s yet through its exclusive chapter called ‘LGBTI+: Unreported Victims’, it highlights LGBTI+ victims as the invisible victims of human trafficking. Recent studies showed that LGBTI+ children and young adults are more prone to be victims of human trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation purposes.
Human Trafficking in the northern part of Cyprus
The annual ‘Trafficking in Person Report’ (TIP) of the United States of America (USA) analyses the human trafficking situation in the northern part of Cyprus. For many years now it has been ranked under Tier 3, which is the most negative ranking statues. The 2020 report concluded that according to the ranking the northern part of Cyprus does not completely fulfill the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking, yet not showing any significant effort to improve the situation.
LGBTI+’s and Human Trafficking: Content and Scope of the Report
Prof. Dr. Özlem Cankurtaran and research assistant Ali Odabaş carried out the field interviews and reporting of the Mapping Study on the Situation of LGBTI+ Sex Workers in the northern part of Cyprus in the context of human trafficking. Assist. Prof. Dr. Neva Öztürk evaluated the general legal framework and the interviews carried out with LGBTI+s to understand the vulnerabilities LGBTI+s face in the context of human trafficking. Faika Deniz Pasha and Derviş Taşkıranlar took part in the editorial part of the report.
This report consists of 3 chapters. The first chapter is related to the analysis of the general legal framework on human trafficking, researches on the necessity and significance of LGBTI+ inclusive fight against human trafficking and local legal texts in the northern part of Cyprus. The second chapter covers the analysis of interviews conducted with the related public officers, politicians, human rights activists, trans and gay participants to understand the human trafficking-related vulnerabilities and risks in the Turkish Cypriot community (TCc). The third chapter covers the conclusion, recommendations and requests. The conclusion part discusses the assessment resulting from the interviews in terms of human trafficking’s legal aspect, and the situation of LGBTI+ oriented human trafficking in the northern part of Cyprus.
Highlights of the Report
According to the data gathered in the study, trans people working in jobs that can be considered as sex work are vulnerable to human trafficking. Important reasons for this vulnerability include: social inequality based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and gender characteristics, discrimination and exclusion in the labor market, excessive family pressure and non-guaranteed legal status of sex work. Trans people who do not already face concrete victimization remain sensitive to it and may experience victimization when dynamic conditions change.
Groups at Risk of Being Trafficked
Sex workers working/made to work in nightclubs, international students, immigrants working informally, people living with HIV, people working in in-house labour/nursing services, local/migrant LGBTI+s (gay and trans woman sex workers as a special group) are at risk to be exposed to human trafficking.
You can visit the reports section on the Queer Cyprus Association’s website to access the full ‘Report on ‘Mapping Study on the Situation of LGBTI+ Sex Workers in the northern part of Cyprus (Human Trafficking and LGBTI+’s)’ or visit our association to obtain a physical copy.