London MEP condemns latest arrests in northern part of Cyprus for homosexuality
A Conservative MEP who has been campaigning for the repeal of the ban on homosexuality in the northern part of Cyprus today condemned the latest arrests on the island for unnatural intercourse.
Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, has been lobbying Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Derviş Eroğlu to repeal the ban on homosexuality in the northern part of Cyprus - that last part of Europe where it is illegal to be gay. In spite of assurances from Dr. Eroğlu that he would sign a repeal of the ban into law, arrests under the Chapter 154, Section 171 of the penal code continue.
The latest arrest took place on 29 January 2012 in the Central Prison in Nicosia. Two male inmates, one a Nigerian citizen, were charged with sexual intercourse against the order of nature. This is the third time in the past 8 months that arrests have been made based on Section 171 of the penal code.
Dr. Eroğlu has twice promised me that the northern part of Cyprus would repeal the ban on homosexuality. I have so far taken him at his word, but now he needs to back up these words with deeds.
There must be an immediate moratorium on arrests under Section 171 and the men arrested last month must be released without delay. Draft legislation submitted by the Communal Democratic Party must be fast-tracked through the assembly to ensure that there are no further miscarriages of justice and Dr. Eroğlu must keep his promise to sign the repeal into law.
I am also concerned about the manner in which these arrests were reported in Kibris, the leading Turkish-language newspaper in Cyprus. The newspaper released the names and even pictures of the two men concerned and reported the arrest in an extremely derogatory tone. It is important not only to change the laws in the north part of Cyprus, but to change attitudes to ensure that all Cypriot adults may engage in consensual sex - be it with the same or different gender - without fear of punishment or pillory.
Marina is a member of the European Parliaments High-Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot Community.