JOINING a global protest against the enactment of Russian laws banning so-called gay propaganda, groups advocating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people in Cyprus gathered outside the Russian embassy in Nicosia yesterday.
Coordinated by online activist group All Out and taking place on the same day in 33 cities, the protest was part of a Global Speak Out ahead of Thursday’s G20 world leaders’ summit in St Petersburg, Russia.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin signed a law at the end of June against “gay propaganda” setting out fines to legal entities, such as companies and non-profit making organisations, and individuals who spread “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” and a “distorted conception of the equivalence between traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships”. Activists have warned LGBT people in Russia are becoming increasingly vulnerable to harassment by organised groups.
“There is no such thing as promoting homosexuality. Someone who is not gay cannot be turned gay,” said 40-year-old Filiz, protesting in Nicosia. Filiz, who did not give a last name, said the concept of so-called propaganda was “absurd”. “Everyone has the right to expression,” she said.
She joined the protest in Nicosia with Queer Cyprus Association based in the north where homosexual sexual acts remain a criminal offence.
Rafaela Camassa, a 23-year-old protester with Rainbow Youth said there was still “many problems” in Cyprus for the LGBT community. The lack of civil partnership legislation prevents couples of whatever genders from having a legally recognised relationship and trans people who want to change official documents to register a different gender than that assigned at birth continue to struggle with something as simple as changing their ID.
“We are not a secular society,” Camassa said. Protesters said their small numbers only meant they would grow. “You have to push for changes,” Camassa said.