Northern Cyprus prepares to repeal anti-LGBT law

Cyprus Today reports on plans to repeal anti-homosexuality laws in Northern Cyprus.
Cyprus Today reports on plans to repeal anti-homosexuality laws in Northern Cyprus.

Preparations for repealing the law against male homosexual activity are under way in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Legislation drawn up by the prime minister’s European Union Coordination Centre would repeal three sections of the area’s penal code, which provide for prison sentences of up to five years for male-male sexual relations.

Those sections of the law currently face legal challenges in the local Constitutional Court and in the European Court of Human Rights.

The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is divided between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the southern Republic of Cyprus.
The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is divided between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the southern Republic of Cyprus.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the last remaining area of Europe with laws specifically outlawing same-sex sexual activity.

Northern Cyprus declared itself independent from the rest of the island of Cyprus in 1983, but it is formally recognized only by Turkey. The European Union considers it a territory under foreign military occupation. As such, in the list of 78-plus countries with laws against homosexual activity, Northern Cyprus is categorized in the “plus” section along with Palestine and Gaza.

Human Dignity Trust, which filed the suit in the European Court of Human Rights, issued this statement:

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus: Homosexuality is to be legalised

Homosexuality is to be legalised in the TRNC, if the measures drawn by government are approved. The new amendment, drawn up by the Prime Ministry’s EU Coordination Centre, would repeal Articles 171, 172 and 173 of Chapter 154 of the TRNC Penal Code that prohibit male homosexual conduct. Currently there are two legal challenges to these provisions pending before the TRNC Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) respectively.

The Human Dignity Trust, supported by the local LGBTI organisation, Queer Cyprus (formerly ‘Initiative Against Homophobia’), had lodged the case before the ECtHR on behalf of an anonymous applicant. Öncel Polili, a Turkish Cypriot lawyer part of the legal team bringing the EctHR case has stated that:

“It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the TRNC Parliament drafted a bill in order to repeal the relevant articles of the criminal code immediately after it was communicated to them that the HDT lodged a case to the European Court of Human Rights.”

The ECtHR, through a 27 February 2013 communication, has invited the Turkish Government to submit their written observations on admissibility and merits of the whole case. The Court has decided to address the question of violation of right to privacy (Article 8).

For more information, see coverage in Cyprus Today.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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