LGBT rights in Cyprus

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LGBT rights in Cyprus
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Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1998,
age of consent equalized in 2002
Gender identity/expression -
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption -
Military service Gays and lesbians not allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protection in employment (see below)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Cyprus may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Cyprus, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Cyprus is still a socially conservative nation when it comes to homosexuality, as LGBT people are seen as engaging in immoral conduct. However, ever since Cyprus sought membership in the European Union it has had to update its human rights legislation, including its laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Laws against homosexuality

Male homosexual conduct only (not lesbianism) was a crime from 1889 when Cyprus was a British colony, and thus like the British law against buggery it was technically silent about female homosexuality or lesbianism. In 1960 Cyprus became a fully independent nation from Britain and still "maintained" the old buggery laws.

Then in 1993, a Cypriot architect named Alexandros Modinos, active in gay rights since 1979, and in 1987 the founder and subsequently President of AKOK[1], the "Cypriot Gay Liberation Movement", won Modinos v. Cyprus under the European Convention on Human Rights, that ruled that Section 171 of the Criminal Code of Cyprus violated his right to have a private life.

However, Cyprus legislators refused to liberalize their own law, and it was not until Cyprus stood to lose its prospective membership to the European Union that in 1998 Cyprus lawmakers decriminalized homosexual relations between consenting adults in private, but set the age of consent for homosexual conduct at eighteen, while the age of consent for heterosexual conduct was at sixteen. Aside from the unequal age of consent, the new criminal amendments also included discrimination against homosexuals in terms of freedom of speech, expression, assembly and the press. The law also addressed both male and female homosexuality for the first time.

In 2000 these provisions were liberalized, but the unequal age of consent remained until 2002 when a new universal age of consent was established at seventeen[2]. Sexual conduct that occurs in public or with a minor is subject to a prison term of five years and in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus male homosexual conduct only (not lesbianism) is still illegal and yet to have the law repealed by a new Criminal Code[1]. On the other hand, the Cyprus military still bars homosexuals from serving under the grounds that homosexuality is a mental illness, and gay sexual conduct can be a crime under military law and the term is 6 months in a military jail although this is rarely if ever enforced.[3].

Gender identity/expression

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Cyprus only recognizes a marriage between a man and a woman. The nation does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. The Cypriot Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary, Lazaros Savvides, said in February 2010 that the Cypriot government will soon examine the issue of making same-sex marriages legal in Cyprus.[4]

Adoption and family planning

Discrimination protections

Since 2004, Cyprus has implemented an anti-discrimination law (Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation Law 2004) that explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment.[5] The law was designed to comply with the European Union's Employment Framework Directive of 2000. However, no prosecutions have been brought under this law.

Living conditions

In 1996 a criminal trial against Meraklis for sodomy, caused serious rioting that stopped the trial, and Meraklis had been named as a possible bishop, but had been blocked by Chrysostomos who believes that Meraklis is a homosexual and that AIDS can be spread through casual conduct[6], comments which irked public health experts and the more liberal Cyprus citizens.

In 2003 a twenty-eight year old Cyprus man was barred from getting a driver's license because he was "psychologically unstable." The man had been discharged from the military for homosexuality, which the military classifies as a mental illness[7].

The "gay scene" in Cyprus grows year by year. Gay bars/clubs are found in 3 cities, including "Different", and gay friendly Kaliwas Lounge in Paphos, "Alaloum", "Jackare", the new "X-Live" club and "Ï€" cafe in Limassol, the newly refurnished "Secrets Club" in Larnaca. Unfortunately "Bianco", Nicosia's gay club closed its doors in autumn 2006. Nicosia has other gay friendly clubs such as Scorpios and Versus, and gay friendly cafes such as Oktana and Room 27.


The pandemic came to Cyprus in 1986, and since then has had a few hundred of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the 1990s, some tourists suspected of homosexuality or being infected with HIV were being refused entry or quickly deported.

The government regularly tests pregnant women, drug users, National Guard troops and blood donors[8]. In a 2001 report to the United Nations, the government broadly mentioned various efforts it has undertaken to fight the disease[9].

In 2004 the Ministry of Health published a report on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Cyprus.

LGBT rights movement in Cyprus

In 1987/88 the Cypriot Gay Liberation Movement (AKOK, or Apeleftherotiko Kinima Omofilofilon Kiprou) was created. As a LGBT rights organization in the nation it was successful in helping to repeal the civilian criminal prohibitions on homosexuality.

In 2007, Initiative Against Homophobia established in Northern Cyprus and deal with the rights of LGBT people in Cyprus. The initiative presented proposal of criminal law to president of Parliament Fatma Ekenoglu in 25 April 2008.[10]

As of 17 May 2010 "accept - Cyprus" (an LGBT rights movement) is active, with the support of several concerned citizens and with the auspices of the Cyprus Family Planning Association and other interested NGOs. The organisation is currently at the stage of preparing its structure, Articles of Association and committee. It is expected that by the end of May 2010, an application for registration of an official legal person will be filed.

Public opinion

Public opinion on LGBT human rights remains a deeply controversial subject. The Cyprus Orthodox Church is a powerful social and political institution and Archbishop Chrysostomos has frequently stated that homosexuality is immoral and ought to have been kept illegal. Another Orthodox Cyprus priest named Pancratios Meraklis supported the repeal effort, and publicly stated that he was infected with HIV, although denied that he was a homosexual.

A 2006 survey showed that 75% of Cypriots disapprove of homosexuality, and many still think that it can be 'cured' [2]. A 2006 EU poll revealed that only 14% of Cypriots would be in favor for same-sex marriage, 10% for authorizing for adoption [3] In January 2010 a citizen of Cyprus made a complaint to the ombudsman service that his Human Rights has been violated because the government does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.

See also


Sources / External links


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