LGBT rights in Cyprus
|LGBT rights in Cyprus|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1998,
age of consent equalized in 2002
|Military service||Same conditions apply for both straight and gay males to define whether it is compulsory for them to serve the two-year military service|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)|
|No recognition of same-sex couples|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Cyprus may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Cyprus, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.
In Cyprus, the socially conservative Eastern Orthodox Church has a significant influence over public opinion when it comes to LGBT-rights. However, ever since Cyprus sought membership in the European Union it has had to update its human rights legislation, including its laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Under most of post pagan Roman and later under Byzantine rule homosexuality was a crime. Male and female homosexuality was illegal in Cyprus when ruled by the Ottoman Turks between 1571-1878. Male homosexual conduct only (not lesbianism) was a crime from 1889 when Cyprus was a British colony, and thus like the British law against buggery it was technically silent about female homosexuality or lesbianism. In 1960, Cyprus became a fully independent nation from Britain but still "maintained" the old buggery laws.
Then in 1993, a Cypriot architect named Alexandros Modinos, active in gay rights since 1979, and in 1987 the founder and subsequently President of AKOK, the "Cypriot Gay Liberation Movement", won Modinos v. Cyprus under the European Convention on Human Rights, that ruled that Section 171 of the Criminal Code of Cyprus violated his right to have a private life.
Despite the legal ruling, Cyprus did not formally revise its criminal code to comply with the ruling until 1998, when failing to do so meant losing membership in the European Union. Even then, the age of consent for homosexual conduct was set at eighteen, while that for heterosexual conduct was at sixteen. Aside from the unequal age of consent, the revised criminal code also made it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which was used to restrict the LGBT-rights movement.
In 2000, the discriminatory ban on "promoting" homosexuality was lifted, and the age of consent was equalized in 2002. Today, the universal of consent is seventeen years of age. Sexual conduct that occurs in public, or with a minor, is subject to a prison term of five years.
The Cyprus military still bars homosexuals from serving, believing that homosexuality is a mental illness. Gay sexual conduct is also, technically, still a crime under military law; the term is 6 months in a military jail although this is rarely, if ever, enforced.
In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (that part of Cyprus occupied since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974) male homosexual conduct only is still illegal and the law is yet to be repealed by a new Criminal Code. The subject of lesbianism is not treated in any laws relating to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Cyprus only recognises a marriage between a man and a woman. The law does not recognise same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. The Cypriot Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary, Lazaros Savvides, said in February 2010 that the Cypriot government will soon examine the issue of making same-sex marriages legal in Cyprus.
On 18 January 2013, then Interior Minister Eleni Mavrou said that her ministry was working on a bill creating civil partnerships. In February 2013, then government accepted the draft bill. In March, newly elected president Nicos Anastasiades and his government reaffirmed their support for the bill.
On 19 November 2013, the Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos stated that a civil partnership bill is still on the Government's agenda. A draft of the bill has already been prepared and is being sent to various Government Ministries for review. It is expected to be published by the end of the year, before being voted upon in 2014.
Since 2004, Cyprus has implemented an anti-discrimination law (Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation Law 2004) that explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. The law was designed to comply with the European Union's Employment Framework Directive of 2000. No prosecutions of gays have been brought since this new law was implemented.
In 2010 reports were made about an openly gay Cypriot diplomat who was denied a posting abroad because his "flaunting of his vices" was considered a liability. In the same case there were reports of mobbing and harassment.
In 2013, the penal code was amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity thus criminalising all discrimination against them.
In 1996, a criminal trial against Father Pancratios Meraklis, who was accused of sodomy, caused serious rioting that stopped the proceedings. Meraklis had been regarded as a possible bishop, but was blocked by then Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos I of Cyprus, who believed Meraklis to be homosexual and that AIDS could be spread through casual conduct. These comments irked public health officials and more open-minded Cyprus citizens.
In 2003 a twenty-eight-year-old Cypriot man was barred from getting a driver's license because he was regarded as "psychologically unstable." The man had been discharged from the military for homosexuality, which the military classifies as a mental illness.
The "gay scene" continues to grow in Cyprus. Bars and clubs are found in 4 cities, including Different, and gay-friendly Kaliwas Lounge in Paphos; Alaloum, Escape, and Jackare in Limassol; Secrets Club in Larnaca and gay-friendly establishments such as Novecento, Ithaki and Svoura in Nicosia.
The pandemic came to Cyprus in 1986, and since then has had a few hundred of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the 1990s, some tourists suspected of being homosexual or being infected with HIV were refused entry or quickly deported.
The government regularly tests pregnant women, drug users, National Guard troops and blood donors. In a 2001 report to the United Nations, the government broadly mentioned various efforts it had undertaken to fight the disease. All non-EU foreigners seeking work and living permit on island need to made test on HIV, Hepatitis B & C, Syphilis and Tuberculosis and if result is positive the permit will not be granted.
In 2004 the Ministry of Health published a report on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Cyprus.
LGBT rights movement in Cyprus
In 1987–88 the Cypriot Gay Liberation Movement (AKOK, or Apeleftherotiko Kinima Omofilofilon Kiprou) was created. As a LGBT rights organisation in the nation it has been successful in helping to repeal the civilian criminal prohibitions regarding homosexuality.
In 2007, Initiative Against Homophobia was established in Northern Cyprus to deal with the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer LGBT people in Cyprus north. On 25 April 2008, the initiative presented a proposal regarding the revising of criminal law to the head of Parliament Fatma Ekenoglu. In 2010 representatives of ILGA-Europe presented the proposal to head of parliament Hasan Bozer. However, no action has been taken on the proposal and people continued to be arrested with claim of unnatural sex. During well known Sarris court case in October 2011, Communal Democracy Party (TDP) presented the same proposal to the parliament with demand of urgent discussion to end criminalisation of homosexuality in Cyprus north. Since March 2012, Initiative Against Homophobia continues its activities with name Queer Cyprus Association.
Accept - LGBT Cyprus is the only officially registered organisation in Cyprus dealing with an LGBT agenda since September 8, 2011. It has the support of several concerned citizens, assisted by various interested NGOs, the European Parliament and foreign Embassies operating in Cyprus. The organisation has also had at times assistance from local municipalities and often had events held under the auspices of local city mayors.
In North Cyprus, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity has not been embodied into law as yet. Therefore in 2008, another civil society initiative, "Shortbus Movement", consists of Human Rights activists, has started to take an action to support LGBTI activities in Cyprus. The group secured financial support from European Commission Taskforce for their project entitled ‘SHORTBUS MOVEMENT: Empowerment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Intersex and Trans Community of northern part of Cyprus’ SHORTBUS MOVEMENT as a team, recently continues to support all the individual or organizational activities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) community of Cyprus.
Most Cyprus citizens are members of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, which opposes LGBT-rights movements. In 2000, a Major Holy Synod had to be convened to investigate rumors that Bishop Athansassios of Limassol had engaged in a homosexual relationship while a novice monk. The charges were not proved.
A 2006 survey showed that 75% of Cypriots disapprove of homosexuality, and many think that it can be 'cured' A 2006 E.U. poll revealed that only 14% of Cypriots as being in favour for same-sex marriage with 10% for authorising adoption.
- Apeleftherotiko Kinima Omofilofilon Kiprou
- "Cyprus". ageofconsent.com. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Helena Smith (26 January 2002). "Cyprus divided over gay rights". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- "Government to look at legalising gay marriage". Cyprus-mail.com. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Moving towards civil partnerships
- LGBT group hails decision on civil partnerships
- DISY ‘fully backs civil partnerships’
- Civil partnership bill will go ahead
- However, in 2011 there have been reports about a Cypriot diplomat who was denied a posting abroad on account of his open homosexuality which was considered a liability by the authorities. Claims of harassment and mobbing where also made in the same case.Implementation of Anti-discrimination directives into national law, European Union
- "Cyprus: Penal code amended to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity". PinkNews. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- planetout.com – Meraklis Admits AIDS, Not Gay [dead link]
- queerday.com – Gay Cyprus man can't get driver's license[dead link]
- cyprus-mail.com – HIV/AIDS incidence low in Cyprus[dead link]
- User (27 June 2001). "United Nations". United Nations. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Initiative Against Homophobia. "Proposal of Criminal law presented by Initiative Against Homophobia". www.queercy.org. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Cyprus synod seeks end to scandal over 'gay' bishop The Telegraph, 15 November 2000
- Overview on being gay in Cyprus Gay Cyprus Online
- Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage Angus Reid Global Monitor
- Accept-LGBT Cyprus Official Website
- Queer Cyprus Association
- Article (2002) by Alexandros Modinos for the Greek newspaper Eleftherotipia
- ILGA – Report on Equality for Lesbians and Gay Men – A Relevant Issue in the EU Accession Process
- Amnesty International call for decriminalizing homosexuality in Cyprus
- Shortbus Movement North Cyprus Official Website