Northern Cyprus, last territory in Europe with gay sex ban, finally removes it

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The Northern part of Cyprus decriminalized homosexuality on Monday, January 27; the region was the last territory in Europe to consider homosexual acts to be a criminal offense.

The original law punished homosexual activity with up to five years in prison or three years for the intent to pursue a homosexual act; however, Parliament’s passing of the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality Bill has changed all that.

In addition to ending the criminalization of same-sex relationships, the new bill will also set in place protections for the LGBT community. The bill prohibits the hate speech against gay and lesbian individuals and also protects against discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality in regards to public services.

“I am very happy that Europe is finally free from laws criminalising people for their sexual orientation,” said the Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, Michael Cashman MEP, as reported by the Intergroup of LGBT Rights.

“I am also glad to see that the government has included a prohibition on hate speech against LGBT people and has improved protection from discrimination. This is a major leap forward for the rights of LGBT people.”

A member of the LGBT Intergroup, Marina Yannakoudakis, expressed her congratulations to Cyprus for “being able to exercise the most basic human right of all—the right to love.”

In addition, Yannakoudakis added her hope that Cyprus’ new progressive piece of legislation will send a message to Uganda and Nigeria, two countries which recently passed laws criminalizing homosexual activity. She wants the example of Cyprus to show them that “the anti-gay legacy of Britain’s colonial past should be scrapped and not strengthened.”

429Magazine

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