Cyprus Mail
Guest Columnist

LGBT+ rights: a society transforming itself

Gay Pride march last year

By Antonia Frangou

The second Cyprus Pride is happening. The religious interference wasn’t enough to discourage the Cypriot LGBT+ movement from demanding basic human rights. For the first time, the future of LGBT+ people seems brighter than ever. For the first time, LGBT+ people are able to express their feelings, their emotions and eventually protect their rights. The Cypriot community is gradually becoming a fairer place for its own people. The progress which has been made in recent years is exceptionally amazing,, unbelievably encouraging and extraordinarily representative of the modern Cypriot society.

It is undeniably encouraging seeing young people thinking outside the box; young, straight people prepared to protect their friends. Twenty years ago when homosexual conduct was still criminalised under Cyprus Law, the present discussion about implementing a Civil Partnership Act in our country would have been unthinkable

In the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judges highlighted the importance of timing when deciding cases regarding LGBT+ rights. By referring to timing they meant the correlation between public acceptance and the government’s willingness to recognise homosexual relationships by providing the appropriate protective legislation. Nonetheless, the ECHR emphasised that this wasn’t the case with anti-gay crimes; there the state is obliged to act in order to protect its own citizens from any form of bullying.

This emphasis on public acceptance had often been criticised, but the courts were just interested in maintaining a just balance between the public opinion and people’s personal rights.

The older generation is unable to comprehend this movement. Ten years ago homosexuality was ‘inexistent’ and ‘inappropriate’. Older people regarded LGBT+ people as caricatures, unable to be integrated within the Cypriot community. The integration seemed impossible, mainly because Cyprus is a religious country. Religion is not the main opponent of homosexuality or transgenderism. The Church is, though.

Fortunately, in our country, activism didn’t take an extreme path. On the contrary, the activism of the LGBT+ movement has been serious, reasonable and pleasant throughout. This is exactly why in 2015 people are more aware of the existence of both homosexuality and transgenderism. Even though, lesbian or gay couples on TV cannot demonstrate affection – to comply with the rules of the Telecommunications Authority – the younger generation is now capable of comprehending the concept of people being themselves no matter what.

Many steps need to be taken for us to become a country where all of its citizens will enjoy equal rights. But for once people have become more concerned and interested in the matter than the government. Public opinion is reversing day by day and the government is now required to adapt and take into account public standards. Thankfully, public morality is no longer the shield of the homophobes, because for once they are the minority.

During 2015, the parliament is obliged to act accordingly. The Civil Partnership Act is now being examined and soon will be ready for implementation. Anti-gay bullying is now criminalised under Cyprus law. Some of the MPs have disagreed, but this phenomenon was expected. No war, no battle could be won if opposition wasn’t present. They cannot understand that by opposing these measures, technically, they urge people to disagree with them and, thus, demand these changes.

Cyprus Pride is takings place in Nicosia for the second time. Everybody is able to attend and watch people parading for their right to be themselves. People will parade to express their feelings without being isolated. Nowadays, LGBT+ people are not isolated. Nowadays, they are fighters. Nowadays, everybody knows they exist. Nobody can turn a blind eye to them anymore. Cyprus is gradually being transformed into a real community. Our future seems brighter than ever.

Nevertheless, it is pure irony for a Republic (and a Church) who demands other countries to respect the right of the private life of its refugees, not to be able to provide the same right of a private life to all its own citizens. Double standards shouldn’t exist. Every citizen in a democratic republic should have equal responsibilities and rights as any other.

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