By Constantinos Psillides
Cyprus first-ever Gay Pride parade will be held in Nicosia on May 31 and it will be part of the 15-day-long Cyprus Pride Festival, according to ACCEPT LGBTI Cyprus head Costas Gavrielides.
“This is a testament to how far Cypriot society has come on issues of inclusion and acceptance,” Gavrielides told the Cyprus Mail, adding that it was long overdue.
The parade will be held under the auspices of Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis.
According to a press release by LGBTI, the festival comes as a celebration of the Civil Partnership Act that is expected to be voted by the House in April.
“A short step before the impending legalisation of civil unions and the criminalisation of homophobic rhetoric, we believe that the time is ripe for an elusive dream of ours materialise – the organising of the first Cyprus Gay Pride Festival, which will embody the will of LGBTI – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex – people to be heard and be accepted as equals, not to be discriminated against or have their human rights diminished by others because of their own personal beliefs and religious affiliations,” said the press release.
The head of the LGBTI community said he hoped that the government would make good on its promise and deliver the bill to the House by April, as it was promised by Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos.
The ministry put a temporary stop to the plan in November 2013, when Hasikos said that it should be rewritten because it violated internal ministry procedures. The minister explained then that this was merely a procedural issue and the bill would be delivered as promised to the LGBTI community.
“I am very glad we reached the point where we can organise a pride festival without fear. Acceptance is the key,” said Gavrielides.
According to Gavrielides, the US ambassador John M Koenig would also be attending the festival, along with Swedish ambassador Klas Gierow and Dutch ambassador Brechje Schwachöfer.
The festival will officially begin on May 17, which is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia and will include a variety of LGBTI related activities that will lead to the parade on May 31.
Among other things, the LGBTI community will be organising a film festival, an art exhibition, a series of open discussions on LGBTI issues, as well as an anti-homophobia and anti-bullying educational campaign with the help of the Cyprus Youth Council.
The Festival will also have a bi-communal element, as the LGBTI community is extending an invitation to the Turkish Cypriot LGBTI community to take part in the event and help with organising it.
The north has just decriminalised homosexuality.
The LGBTI movement in Cyprus sprang into life literally overnight. In April 2010, DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous was a guest on a CyBC radio talk show to talk about marriage equality and gay rights. While on the show and faced with the proposition that the state should allow gay marriage, the DISY MP responded by asking whether the state should legalise the actions of paedophiles, necrophiliacs and those who engage in bestiality, simply because they exist in a society.
The comment sparked an immediate reaction and on the very next day an LGBTI group got organised and promised to promote the rights and interests of the LGBTI community, starting with civil partnership.