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Cyprus ranked 33rd out of 49 European countries for LGBTI rights

May 13, 2019 at 3:40pm

Cyprus ranked 33rd among 49 European countries as regards the human rights situation of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people according to a new report published by ILGA-Europe a leading NGO for LGBTI rights.

It scored 22.68%, down from the 28.5% score of the previous year when it ranked 30th.

The country scored 22.68%, down from the 28.5% score of the previous year when it ranked 30th.

Malta scored top with 90.35%, followed by Belgium with 73.08% and Luxembourg with 70.40%. The UK was eighth, Greece 14th and Turkey second to last.

The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people using a wide range of indicators covering equality, family issues and hate speech legal gender recognition, freedom of expression and asylum rights.

They examine the advances made at national level country-by-country in the 12 months from January to December 2018. It also looks at the LGBTI equality work carried out by organisations such as the EU, the UN, the OESC and the Council of Europe.

The Cyprus section of the 2019 report by ILGA-Europe – the European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association particularly highlighted the need to include all SOGISC (sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics) grounds in legislation prohibiting discrimination in the field of health and in the field of education.

And it called for the development of  an accessible and transparent legal framework for legal gender recognition, which establishes an administrative process based on self-determination and free from abusive requirements (such as sterilisation, GID/medical diagnosis, surgical/medical intervention, divorce, or age limits).

Recommendations are intended to encourage policymakers to address the most pressing legal and policy priorities within the framework of our Rainbow Map & Index.

The recommendations were gathered following an online consultation with a wide range of LGBTI organisations in the various countries. As a result, the recommendations are tailored to the needs of activists working on the ground.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Homophobic speech by the Archbishop was reported by civil society back in 2016. Even though the Ombudsman established that it was indeed hate speech, the attorney general has taken no action to hold the Archbishop responsible. On December 14, at a police conference “The ECHR and its effect on the legal order”, Accept – LGBTI Cyprus raised the issue again, asking the president of the Supreme Court whether the Law against discrimination and enforcement of justice (2013) did not apply to the Archbishop. The Supreme Court president responded: “No one is above the law”. However there is still no public statement from the attorney general.
  • Trans-phobic assaults on trans women or their property were recorded and reported to the police in July in Limassol and Paphos.
  • A new online platform for anonymous reporting of homophobic and trans-phobic assaults was launched by Accept – LGBTI Cyprus in 2018.
  • New rainbow meetings were started in Geroskipou this year. Rainbow Meetings are run by Accept – LGBTI Cyprus and attended by LGBTI people, family members and allies. Queer Cyprus Association and Accept – LGBTI Cyprus also hold Rainbow Meetings together in English each month.
  • For the third time, the 17th of May Organisation Committee of over ten NGOs gathered on the occasion of IDAHOBIT and painted rainbows over northern Cyprus. This year’s march in north Nicosia ran from the Dereboyu Suitex to Uray street and was organised under the slogan “Neither my fight, nor my love is over”.
  • The Cyprus Pride 2018 march in Nicosia took place on June 3 for the 5th time and focused on legal gender recognition. The event was once again placed under the auspices of the President of the Republic and the Mayor of Nicosia and was supported by the Cyprus police. For the first time, the Government  financially supported the event, the first time it offered financial support to an LGBTI organisation. Additionally, for the first time, buses were available for a small fee for those who wanted to join from Paphos. Paphos activists also organised parallel events to mark Pride Days.
  • NGO Accept – LGBTI Cyprus monitored, supported and raised awareness about the demeaning experience of a local trans man in August 2018, whilst visiting the Larnaca general hospital to secure a testosterone shot. The attending nurse was ignorant of trans healthcare, subjecting the person to intrusive and humiliating questioning before administering the shot. Following the man’s written complaint to the hospital authorities and Accept’s support and propagation of his letter to high-level allies, hospital authorities issued a formal apology, pledging to take measures to prevent similar conduct.
  • Legal gender recognition was the main theme of this year’s Cyprus Pride March in Nicosia. Activists are awaiting the finalisation of the country’s legal gender recognition reform for years, cooperating with international NGOs and the Council of Europe.
  • In June, Costas Gavrielides, NGO Accept – LGBTI Cyprus president, was appointed as an adviser to the President of the Republic of Cyprus for promoting multiculturalism, acceptance and respect for diversity. Part of his tasks is the creation of a national committee to promote multiculturalism, acceptance and respect for diversity. The committee will also serve to combat prejudice, homophobia and trans-phobia.

 For the areas not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, ILGA-Europe’s recommendations are:

  • an accessible and transparent legal framework for legal gender recognition, which establishes an administrative process based on self-determination and free from abusive requirements (such as sterilisation, GID/medical diagnosis, surgical/medical intervention, divorce, or age limits).
  • Specifically including all SOGISC (sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics) grounds in legislation prohibiting discrimination in the field of employment.
  • Specifically including all SOGISC (sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics) grounds in legislation prohibiting discrimination in the field of education.

This year’s Cyprus Pride marches will take place on May 18 in the occupied north and on June 1 in the Republic of Cyprus-controlled areas.