Two years after Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Derviş Eroğlu promised Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis to repeal the north part of the island’s ban on homosexuality, the London MEP has returned to Cyprus to revive the process.
While proposals for a repeal were put before lawmakers this year, early elections meant that any plans for a repeal need to be re-tabled.
Mrs. Yannakoudakis met the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which is currently the largest Turkish Cypriot political party as well as its partner the Democratic Party. She also met with the leader of the smaller Communal Democracy Party (TDP).
All three parties promised to enact a decriminalisation of homosexuality giving a timeframe of 1-2 months.
Male homosexuality has been illegal in Northern Cyprus since the island gained independence from British colonial rule in the 1960s, if found guilty, a custodial sentence of up to three years in prison can be ruled as punishment. Female homosexuality is exempt from the law.
Southern Cyprus decriminalized homosexuality in 1998 in order to acquiesce to the European Union. However the North’s stance on homosexuality puts it outside of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The desire to repeal the gay ban before the end of the year was echoed by Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Eroğlu who, in a meeting with Mrs. Yannakoudakis today, said:
“We are going to help them (the political parties) to do it in a much more speedy manner,” adding “I am going to spend effort to have this law go to the assembly.”
Mrs. Yannakoudakis welcomed the positive response saying, “The time is right and it seems that the political will is finally there. Now the Turkish Cypriots must act and keep their promise to me to respect human rights.”
Mrs. Yannakoudakis, who also met with representatives of the LGBT group Queer Cyprus and other supporters of decriminalisation, shared the activists’ cautious optimism, “The Turkish Cypriot LGBT community has waited long enough for decriminalisation.
“I call on all the stakeholders to work together to ensure that a single set of measures to decriminalise homosexuality are tabled without delay.
“When I next visit the island next year, I look forward to celebrating with my LGBT friends in the north part of Cyprus as they embark upon a new era of equality.”