The European Court of Human Rights has accepted a case seeking to decriminalize homosexual activity in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is the last remaining part of Europe where such acts are a crime, PinkNews reports.
The case was brought by the Human Dignity Trust on behalf of a plaintiff who, for his safety, has not been identified. Northern Cyprus has been controlled by Turkey since the 1970s. The Republic of Cyprus controls the southern part of the island, all of which is part of the European Union. PinkNews explains the situation:
Cyprus was required by the court to decriminalize consensual sex between consenting adults in 1993, but Cyprus’ division has meant many of the island’s inherited British criminal laws – including the ban on homosexuality – remain in force in the North.
This is despite repeated assurances by government authorities that these laws that violate human rights law would be repealed. …
The case is against Turkey, which is responsible for protecting and promoting human rights in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It means that Turkey, which does not criminalize homosexuality, must now defend this British colonial legacy in Northern Cyprus.
Under current law, Northern Cyprus provides for up to five years in prison for male-male sexual activity, but does not consider lesbian activity a crime, according to the 2012 report “State-Sponsored Homophobia” from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. It adds:
The only territory in Europe where consensual sexual acts between adults (men only) are still criminalized is Northern Cyprus, making Europe a region that stands out in this report. It does not mean, however, that LGBT people in Europe live their lives free from discrimination.
The situation in Europe varies from country to country. In some countries violations of human rights are state-sponsored while some countries provide, or claim to provide, legal equality for LGBT people. But even legal regulations may sometimes not be implemented fully due to homophobic attitudes in state institutions. In many cases LGBT persons hesitate to report violence due to lack of confidence in police and other authorities.
For more information, read the PinkNews article “Bid to decriminalise gay acts in Northern Cyprus at European court.”