IT’S barely been 20 years since homosexuality was considered a crime in Cyprus and though the legislation was effectively a dead letter law, the stigma it conferred kept gay people from being open about who they were or being able to live their lives as equal members of society.
Now, with the island’s third pride parade coming up and the approval by parliament recently allowing civil partnerships, as well as the criminalisation of public incitement to violence or hatred due to homophobia or transphobia, things are improving. Yet these major developments only happened this year, which means that the winds of change are still moving very slowly.
There are many battles still to be fought, according to the head of Accept-LGBTI Cyprus, Costas Gavrielides.
The next steps, he said, include legalisation for adoptions and the introduction of a simple procedure for the legal change of gender identity for trans people.
The latter is a new challenge for Cyprus as a state. Gavrielides called for legal recognition of gender identity “without humiliating medical procedures”. Though he did not elaborate, it suggests the government is making it tough for trans persons to change gender on their legal papers without having to undergo major surgeries by either proving they are no longer a man/woman, or that they have physically achieved the opposite. This can make things very difficult for them in terms of everyday life and for travelling abroad in the meantime.
Gavrielides said trans persons were often accused of using fake documents resulting in them being forced to reveal they are trans, which violated their right to privacy.
As Cyprus moves forward, the state and parliament, irrespective of their own personal beliefs, should not dictate to people how to live their lives. Unfortunately, Cyprus is still influenced by Church dogma, which if followed to the letter, would see all LGBTI people put to death.
If people want to believe what the Bible says about homosexuality being an ‘abomination’, good for them. They should be grateful that the constitution allows them to believe whatever they want. They should then in turn offer the same courtesy to those who believe differently.
Religions, especially Christianity, now use the well-worn cop-out that ‘God loves the sinner, but not the sin’, effectively saying: “We have no problem with gays, as long as they don’t act gay”.
As for religious bigots who say alternative kinds of families are damaging traditional set ups, they should look at today’s society. Heterosexual parents can and do emotionally and physically harm their children in plenty of ways, from neglect right up to and including murder. They should also bear in mind that most child sexual abusers are heterosexual, not homosexual men.
If more people were to mind their own business and not try to foist their beliefs, dogmas, cultures, political systems and ways of life on others, there might be fewer race, gender, political and religious conflicts in the world.