Cypriot LGBT organisations Kuir Kibris and Accept LGBTI Cyprus were presented with a European citizen award in a ceremony at the European Union house in Nicosia on Friday.

The two organisations were recognised for their work in organising the annual joint Cyprus pride festival, which took place in May this year.

Accepting the award on behalf of Kuir Kibris, Dervish Erol said the ceremony “symbolises love, acceptance, and the power of unity.”

He said that the Cyprus pride festival “aims to defend human rights for all and is a means for peace and unity.”

He also highlighted the fact that the two associations are from different sides of Cyprus and said the partnership between them for the Cyprus pride festival “is an example of the belief that love transcends borders.”

Nicholas Tryphon, accepting the award on behalf of Accept LGBTI Cyprus, said the Cyprus pride festival “is a symbol of hope, progress, resilience, and the determination of [the LGBT] community in Cyprus.”

He also pointed out that the joint pride march which both organisations hold “has transcended political boundaries, promoting dialogue, understanding, solidarity, and reconciliation.”

He added, “in a world characterised by division and discrimination, the LGBT community is an example of how love, acceptance, and inclusion can bring people together.”

“Pride festivals are not just celebrations, but also a path to visibility and the assertion of human rights”, he said.

The ceremony was attended by Akel European parliament member Niyazi Kizilyurek, who made reference to earlier statements by Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was “uncomfortable” with the “use of LGBT colours” at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

He said, “whether it is the attitude of Erdogan, or the events in Limassol where hooded men attacked the LGBT community, or the policies of Hungarian president Viktor Orban, all of these point to a questioning of the democratic functioning of basic human rights.”

“Therefore, the fight for the rights of the LGBT community does not only constitute support for a way of life, but a fight for democracy, for basic human rights”, he said.

He said that this was the reason why he and fellow MEP George Georgiou nominated the organisations for the award – “because we understood that this is a fight to expand democracy and to fight against the forces which question the functioning of democracy and basic human rights.”

“We honoured these people in the fight for democracy”, he added, also calling on the Republic of Cyprus to enact a “national action plan” to deal with attacks on LGBT people and assert their rights.

In addition, the ceremony was attended by Andreas Kettis, head of the European parliament’s office in Cyprus, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou, Gender Equality Commissioner Josie Christodoulou, and other dignitaries.