Cyprus Mail

Five persons sought over LGBTI incident

A screenshot of the incident from a video posted by Accept - LGBTI Cyprus

Police late on Thursday issued arrest warrants for five individuals linked to Wednesday’s incident at the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) when hooded figures barged into a lecture hall shouting homophobic slurs during an Accept-LGBTI presentation.

The episode has been widely condemned as an assault on free speech.

First to denounce it was President-elect Nikos Christodoulides, who called the attack unacceptable.

Earlier in the day, Limassol police deputy spokesman Marinos Vasiliou said that an investigative team had been established, but that up until that time they had been unable to identify anyone.

“There are many ongoing examinations [into the incident]. For us, this case is very serious and it is condemnable,” he added.

The team on the case was examining the CCTV footage in the area and taking statements from students.

The incident occurred around 8:30pm on Wednesday night, and according to Vasiliou, aside from the slurs and the setting off of the fire extinguisher, one of the masked individuals also punched a 21-year-old presentation attendee.

Meanwhile, all top officials and the political parties condemned the occurence, aside from the far-right Elam party.

In a statement release about the incident, ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides said that the assailants need to be criminally charged.

“Now is the time to defend the values of our democratic society, which no one has the right to harm,” she said.

She said that every act of violence is condemnable, adding “even more so when it is directed against vulnerable groups of the population”.

Lottides said that once again, LGBTI+ people are targeted and continue to face intense daily prejudice, due to what society thinks is ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’.

In her comment on Twitter, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides also condemned the attack.

“I condemn yesterday’s homophobic attack against Accept-Cy,” she said.

She added that everyone has the right to feel safe and free from prejudice and violence, no matter their sexual orientation of gender identity.

The rector of Tepak, Panayiotis Zafeiris said that the incident was an “assault on free movement of ideas and opinions in a university”.

“We will not leave it [the incident] like this, and members of the student body already gave testimony to police,” he said.

He added that if the police investigation shows that other students were involved in the incident than the university will deal with them accordingly and they will be punished.

Speaking to CNA about the incident, head of Accept-LGBTI Nicolas Tryfon said that so far it seems that the people that committed the assault are far-right individuals.

He added that a similar incident occurred last September during the pride march in Limassol and another gathering at Tepak.

According to Tryfon, hooded individuals entered the event organised at the university and threw flyers about the ‘traditional nuclear family’.

He asserted that “these are positions and statements from far-right actors and even the church, which lead to such wrong and invalid perceptions of the society we live in or want to live in.”

“The silence and failure to take a position, by some, on the basis of reality, lead to these occurrences,” he said.

He added that the group is working towards the creation of a society where everyone is accepted.

“However, some people believe that, in a democracy, they can and should impose their beliefs on others,” he said.

In the video of the incident, a person is seen setting off a fire extinguisher while others are heard shouting.

The group further claimed that homophobic slurs were shouted out and as the masked intruders left, they destroyed property on their way.

The group further claimed that the presidential election period saw heightened rhetoric against the LGBTQI+ community – despite laws being in place to protect their rights.

“We are not afraid of you and we will not be silenced,” the group said, adding that they have more evidence of the incident but called others to come forward to help identify the alleged attackers.


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