Monthly rainbow meetings in support of the LGBT community are being held Geroskipou, following the success of similar events that got underway in Paphos last June.
The meetings are co-ordinated by Accept LGBT Cyprus’ representative in Paphos, South African Cypriot Zac Theophanous.
He said that even though only two meetings have taken place in Geroskipou so far, they are already proving successful.
“At both the Paphos meetings and now in Geroskipou many people attend, including some great parents and LGBT allies as well. The meetings provide a place that offers support, discussion and advice; acceptance for people is very important,” Theophanous told the Cyprus Mail.
He said that currently a number of participants travel considerable distances to participate in meetings from remote villages in the district, showing there is a great need to feel part of something and share a sense of belonging where people can meet others with similar experiences.
Last June, Theophanous raised the rainbow flag for the first time at Paphos town hall, ahead of the Cyprus Pride Parade which is held in Nicosia.
“We will do this again this year and this time we are also in the process of applying to raise the rainbow flag at Geroskipou municipality as well,” he said.
It is hoped that rainbow meetings will also be established in Peyia and Polis in the future, but the organiser said that this will be done ‘step by step’.
Rainbow meetings have been held in Cyprus since 2010, when they first took place in Nicosia.
President of Accept Nicholas Tryfon said that highlighting issues concerning the LGBT community remains of the utmost importance and that this year’s Pride march will again offer a way to do that.
“There is far more interest generated in Pride now than there was at the beginning, and as it has progressed it has created awareness and bought issues out into the open.”
The annual march has helped to ‘normalise’ the LGBT community which was previously ‘taboo’.
“In some circles this view remains, but it’s less of an unknown issue,” he said.
Pride is an opportunity for change and for increasing members of the community – gay, straight, bi or trans – to show their support each year.
“It brings many people together that want the same thing, equal rights for all,” he said.
One of the issues highlighted this year is legal gender recognition for the trans community in Cyprus, he said. For the past two years, Accept Cyprus has been working towards this with the Council of Europe.
“It is in the process of being checked that it follows European laws and we hope to get it into parliament before Pride. We would love to announce this legal recognition at Pride.”
If this is not possible due to the Easter holidays and the subsequent August break, it would be September, he said.
The annual Pride march will take place on June 3rd in Nicosia, and if enough interest is shown from Paphos, a bus to and from the capital will be laid on for a small fee, said Theophanous.
“We will also be organising a number of events to mark ‘Pride Days’ in Paphos and we are finalising them now,” he said.
Rainbow meetings are held in Paphos on the third Monday of the month at the Youth Centre from 5.30pm- 7.30pm and in Geroskipou on the first Tuesday of the month at the Iris counselling centre from 6pm- 8pm.
www.acceptcy.org (00357) 99 812343