Moving forward on LGBT rights

22/05/2013
Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from Cyprus Mail: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/accept/moving-forward-lgbt-rights/20130517

THE QUESTION of when the bill for civil partnerships would be passed was raised yesterday at a press conference at the EU house in Nicosia in light of international day against homophobia and transphobia, which is marked today.

Costas Gavrielides, President of Accept – LGBT Cyprus said it was important that steps had been taken to change the Cypriot mentality when it came to homophobia but in reality, little had changed, he said. One of the biggest problems of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people is their visibility in society “which until recently was nonexistent. This invisibility allowed this vulnerable population to be sidelined,” Gavrielides said.

According to a survey ten per cent of the Cypriot population, some 85,000 people, are LGBT. Gavrielides said homophobic incidents were expected to increase in Cyprus due to the economic crisis. “Our organisation has already been the recipient of homophobic threats,” he said.

The organisation is asking the new government and parliament to seriously consider the prevention of homophobic, transphobic hate crimes, hate speech, bullying and also legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

“We are and will remain committed to preventing and eliminating such discrimination. According to a special Eurobarometre survey, one in two Europeans believe people in their country are discriminated against based on sexual orientation. In Cyprus 73 per cent of Cypriots consider there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is the highest figure in the EU,” Georgios Makropouliotis, head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, said.

Tasos Georgiou, head of European Parliament office in Cyprus said his office had been working with Accept-LGBT over the last five years “and now the problem of homophobia is being recognised and the bill for civil partnerships is currently on the agenda,”
AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou had very strong opinions about when the bill would be passed and how the ministry of education should deal with bullying due to homophobia in schools.

“Just because four party representatives are here today it does not mean that the bill will be passed. That being said, I assure you that a large percentage of AKEL will vote for it. I hope that the bill is not postponed for two or three or four years,” Charalambidou said.
“It is sad to see violence in schools and children being bullied because they are different. I have spoken to the ministry of education about educating students on such matter and was told this is covered in the physical education lesson. Only by educating our children can we change the way we think, but it seems that not many people are willing to stand-up and change. Everyone can say nice things but we must be ready to act. We must push for the bill to go through,” Charalambidou said.

Representing DISY, Xenia Constantinou, the commissioner of quality and human rights said she was glad to see a panel of four men. “Issues such as these normally scare men and I would like to see more men in power support these causes. Hopefully the bill will be passed by the end of the year,” Constantinou said.

Accept is inviting the public to a party at the KISA migrant support group’s garden at 48 Arsinoe Street, in old Nicosia, tonight at 7pm to celebrate and claim a world without discrimination.


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