Cyprus Mail

North pledges to repeal homosexuality ban

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE TURKISH Cypriot political leadership yesterday pledged to repeal the ban on homosexuality in the breakaway regime, an antiquated remnant of colonial law, within two months.

British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marina Yannakoudakis yesterday met with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and political parties to revive the process of decriminalisation after receiving a promise from Eroglu two years ago to repeal the ban.

According to a press release issued by the Conservative MEP’s press office, Yannakoudakis met the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) which is currently the largest Turkish Cypriot political party as well as its partner the Democratic Party. She also met with the leader of the smaller Communal Democracy Party (TDP).

All three parties promised to enact a decriminalisation of homosexuality giving a timeframe of one to two months.
The desire to repeal the gay ban before the end of the year was echoed by Eroglu who, in a meeting with the British MEP, said: “We are going to help (the political parties) do it in a much more speedy manner.”

Yannakoudakis welcomed the positive response saying: “The time is right and it seems that the political will is finally there. Now the Turkish Cypriots must act and keep their promise to me to respect human rights.”

The London MEP, who also met with representatives of the LGBT group Queer Cyprus and other supporters of decriminalisation, shared the activists’ cautious optimism.

“The Turkish Cypriot LGBT community has waited long enough for decriminalisation. I call on all the stakeholders to work together to ensure that a single set of measures to decriminalise homosexuality are tabled without delay,” she said.

“When I next visit the island next year, I look forward to celebrating with my LGBT friends in the north part of Cyprus as they embark upon a new era of equality,” Yannakoudakis added.

The failure to repeal the colonial era ban on homosexuality has led to condemnations from members of the European Parliament in early 2012, following reports that two inmates in a Turkish Cypriot prison had appeared in court on charges of having had homosexual sex in a prison cell.

Also last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the north’s continued failure to repeal the law banning homosexuality, following a wave of arrests for homosexuality in the north.

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