Brit MEP lobbies to decriminalise homosexuality in TRNC

A British (MEP) Maria Yannakoudakis, will be meeting with President Eroglu tomorrow to discuss the proposed decriminalisation of homosexuality in the TRNC.

Homosexuality has now been decriminalised in the South and when Yannakoudakis visited President Eroglu in 2011, she received assurances that he would change the law in respect of homosexuals.

Since then, Yannakoudakis has been lobbying the Turkish Cypriots to decriminalise homosexuality while the Turkish Cypriot community has received technical assistance from the EU to support that aim.

The British MEP is holding meetings with members of the Turkish Cypriot community today and tomorrow to discuss the next steps regarding decriminalisation.

In August 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the North’s continued failure to repeal a law banning homosexuality.

The application was filed in Strasbourg in February 2012 by the Human Dignity Trust (HDT), a London-based NGO made up of active and retired judges which helps local groups and individuals challenge the legality of laws that criminalise same-sex relationships.

The HDT took the decision to pursue Turkey after a wave of arrests for homosexuality in the North. Turkey was the target of this challenge since the international community deems Turkey to be responsible for law making in the TRNC.

The current law on homosexuality in the north dates back to British colonial times and has never been repealed or amended, despite the fact homosexuality is no longer illegal in Turkey or in the South, where the colonial law was repealed in 1998 after a decision by the ECHR.

Speaking at the time, human rights lawyer and head of HDT, Jonathan Cooper, described the law in the North as “archaic”, violating international law and decisions of the ECHR.

“The criminalisation of identity puts people beyond protection of the law. This is not an issue of gay rights but one of upholding universal human rights,” he said.

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