By Evie Andreou
TEN PER Cent of the Cypriot population, around 85,000 people, face stigmatisation and prejudice, the head of ACCEPT-LGBTI Costas Gavielides said on Monday at a press conference to mark the International day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
The day, May 17, which fell on Sunday this year marks the day the World Health Organisation declared in 1990 that “homosexuality is not a mental illness, disorder or abnormality”.
Discussing where Cyprus stands on the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community compared to its fellow European countries, Gavrielides said that “our country ranks last this year among EU member states as it continues to offer almost no legal protection to the LGBTI”.
He added that civil partnerships, whose legislation was approved by Cabinet some two weeks ago and will be sent to the parliament to vote on should be institutionalised before the end of the year.
“We believe that once it is passed, it will be an important step toward the eradication of significant discriminations against homosexual couples” Gavrielides said.
ACCEPT is also fighting for individuals to choose to change their sex without facing bureaucratic obstacles by the state, and campaigning against bullying and prejudice in schools.
He said that Cyprus should not mourn its own Vangelis Yiakoumakis, the Greek student who reportedly committed suicide after prolonged and cruel bullying from some of his fellow students because he was gay.
The head of the EU representation in Cyprus, Costas Markopouliotis, said that a recent survey of the European Commission showed that 46 per cent of the LGBTI people in Cyprus said they were victims of some form of discrimination or harassment.
Gavrielides also announced the organisation of the second Gay Pride Festival which will end with the Pride parade.
He said that last year’s first pride festival initiated a social dialogue, since it gave the island’s LGBTI community a chance to discuss the problems they face in a most immediate way.
Last year’s Gay Pride parade, the first organised on the island, was a great surprise to its organisers, as Gavrielides said they did not expect 4,500 people to participate.
“We expected around 150,” he said.
At the festival, which will begin on May 28 there will be film screenings, art exhibitions, book readings, discussions, family days, and a human library. The festival will end on June 6, with the parade.