LGBT rights in Cyprus

LGBT rights in Cyprus
LGBT rights in Cyprus
Location of  Cyprus  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Cyprus  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

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 No
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 often seen[who?] 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.


Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

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 but 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 liberalise their own law,[citation needed]and it was not until Cyprus stood to lose its prospective membership to the European Union that in 1998 its lawmakers decriminalized homosexual relations between consenting adults in private. The age of consent for homosexual conduct was set at eighteen, while that 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.[citation needed]The law also addressed both male and female homosexuality for the first time.

In 2000 these provisions were liberalizsed; however, 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.The Cyprus military still bars homosexuals from serving on the grounds that homosexuality is a mental illness; gay sexual conduct remains a crime under military law; the term is 6 months in a military jail although this is rarely, if ever, enforced.[3].

In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (that part of Cyprus occupied since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974) male homosexual conduct only is still illegal and the law is yet to be repealed by a new Criminal Code. The subject of lesbianism is not treated in any laws relating to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Cyprus only recognises a marriage between a man and a woman. The law does not recognise 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]

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. No prosecutions of gays have been brought since this new law was implemented. In 2010 reports were made about an openly gay Cypriot diplomat who was denied a posting abroad because his "flaunting of his vices" was considered a liability. In the same case there were reports of mobbing and harassment.

Living conditions

In 1996, a criminal trial against Father Pancratios Meraklis, who was accused of sodomy, caused serious rioting that stopped the proceedings. Meraklis had been regarded as a possible bishop, but was blocked by then Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos I of Cyprus, who believed Meraklis to be homosexual and that AIDS could be spread through casual conduct[6]. These comments irked public health officials and more open-minded Cyprus citizens.

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

The "gay scene" continues to grow in Cyprus. Bars and clubs are found in 4 cities, including Different, and gay-friendly Kaliwas Lounge in Paphos; Alaloum, and Jackare in Limassol; Secrets Club in Larnaca and gay-friendly establishments such as Scorpios, Versus, Svoura and Oktana in Nicosia.


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 being homosexual or being infected with HIV were refused entry or quickly deported.[citation needed]

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 had 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 organisation in the nation it has been successful in helping to repeal the civilian criminal prohibitions regarding homosexuality.

In 2007, Initiative Against Homophobia was established in Northern Cyprus to deal with the rights of LGBT people in that part of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops. On 25 April 2008, the initiative presented a proposal regarding the revising of criminal law to the president of Parliament Fatma Ekenoglu.[10]As of 2010, no action had been taken on the proposal.

"Accept – Cyprus" (an LGBT rights movement) is active, with the support of several concerned citizens and operates under the auspices of the Cyprus Family Planning Association, assisted by various 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.

In North Cyprus, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity has not been embodied into law as yet. Therefore in 2008, another civil society initiative, "Shortbus Movement", consists of Human Rights activists, has started to take an action to support LGBTI activities in Cyprus. The group secured financial support from European Commission Taskforce for their project entitled ‘SHORTBUS MOVEMENT: Empowerment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Intersex and Trans Community of northern part of Cyprus’ SHORTBUS MOVEMENT as a team, recently continues to support all the individual or organizational activities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) community of Cyprus.

Public opinion

Public opinion on LGBT human rights remains a deeply controversial subject. The Cypriot Orthodox Church is a powerful social and political institution and its leader, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, has frequently stated that homosexuality is immoral and ought to have been kept illegal.[citation needed] In 2000, a Major Holy Synod had to be convened to investigate rumours that Bishop Athansassios of Limassol had enjoyed a homosexual relationship while a novice monk. The charges were not proved[11].

A 2006 survey showed that 75% of Cypriots disapprove of homosexuality, and many still think that it can be 'cured'[12]A 2006 E.U. poll revealed that only 14% of Cypriots as being in favour for same-sex marriage with 10% for authorising adoption. [13] In January 2010 a citizen of Cyprus made a complaint to the ombudsman service that his human rights had been violated because the government does not recognise same-sex marriages.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Apeleftherotiko Kinima Omofilofilon Kiprou
  2. ^ "Cyprus". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Helena Smith. "Cyprus divided over gay rights". The Guardian. UK.,7792,575230,00.html. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Government to look at legalising gay marriage". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  5. ^ However, in 2011 there have been reports about a Cypriot diplomat who was denied a posting abroad on account of his open homosexuality which was considered a liability by the authorities. Claims of harassment and mobbing where also made in the same case.Implementation of Anti-discrimination directives into national law, European Union
  6. ^ – Meraklis Admits AIDS, Not Gay [dead link]
  7. ^ – Gay Cyprus man can't get driver's license[dead link]
  8. ^ – HIV/AIDS incidence low in Cyprus[dead link]
  9. ^ User (27 June 2001). "United Nations". United Nations. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Initiative Against Homophobia. "Proposal of Criminal law presented by Initiative Against Homophobia". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Cyprus synod seeks end to scandal over 'gay' bishop The Telegraph, 15 November 2000
  12. ^ Overview on being gay in Cyprus Gay Cyprus Online
  13. ^ Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage Angus Reid Global Monitor

Sources and external links

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