Homophobic, transphobic and biphobic incidents should not be treated as isolated incidents and should not be underestimated, Commissioner for the Administration and Protection of Human Rights, Maria Stylianou-Lottides said on Friday.

The Commissioner was commenting on the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is extremely harmful to human dignity, affects the core of the human being and violates essential human rights,” she said.

For the achievement of substantial equality and the fight against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it was crucial “to remain focused on the effective deconstruction of stereotypes and myths which permeate society”, she added.

The criminalisation of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric as hate speech – as well as the legal recognition of same-sex cohabitations – were undoubtedly examples of good practices and indications of the significant legislative progress that has been achieved in Cyprus, she said.

Discrimination has not disappeared, however, with members of the LGBT community continuing to be victims of “systemic discrimination, negative stereotypes, intimidation and even violent attacks”.

“It is therefore important and necessary that the seriousness of homophobic and transphobic incidents is not underestimated or covered up by characterising them as isolated incidents. On the contrary, these should be recognised as crimes,” Lottides said, adding that this would be a reminder of the state’s stated position of zero tolerance on such matters.

Her office will continue its active participation in raising awareness around the issue, defending the rights of the LGBT community and combatting stereotypes, she said.

She also welcomed the joint ministerial declaration of May 15 at the Hague where 32 countries, including Cyprus, expressed their readiness to support and cooperate to ensure human rights and to respond to the common challenges.