The LGBTI Movement in Cyprus: Activism, Law, and Change Across the Divide
Following the end of the British rule of Cyprus in 1960, the recognition of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex (LGBTI) community as a legitimate political actor and the recognition of LGBTI rights has been a slow and diffcult process on both sides of the divide. The prevailing nationalist politics that emphasised the Cyprus problem as an ethnic issue since the 1960s have hindered civil society mobilisation on other issues – including issues of sexuality and gender non-conformity – that have been rendered as less politically important, if not as apolitical, when compared to the ‘Cyprus problem.’ Nationalistic discourses tend to enjoy more appeal in postcolonial, ethnically divided, and conﬂict-ridden contexts, like Cyprus, where the stakes of a widely shared national identity are particularly high. Cyprus’s historic turns – and the British colonisers’ discourses that fuelled interethnic hatred and nationalism and, for the frst time, delegitimised sexual and gender nonconformity on the island – have rendered heterocentrism and cisgenderism as the sine qua non of the ethnic communities’ unity against internal and external enemies, while heterocentrism and cisgenderism’s privileging has underpinned legal, political, social, economic, and cultural mechanisms of lives’ regulation and hierarchisation on both sides of the divide (Kamenou, 2011; Kamenou, 2012; Kamenou, 2016; Kamenou, 2019a; Kamenou, 2019b; Kamenou, 2020). Originally retained from the UK Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, within the Criminal Code (Chapter 154) that governed the newly formed Republic of Cyprus (RoC), Articles 171 to 173 effectively criminalised and outlawed homosexuality and sexual acts between consenting males. Following the establishment of the Turkish Cypriot administration in 1975, the same criminal code was adopted without any changes into the Turkish Cypriot Criminal Code. In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Paragraph 154, Articles 171to 173, remained the same without any amendments. Similarly, in the south, in relation to acts of same-sex sexual conduct, the transplantation of the Labouchere Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 by the British colonisers has been left intact until the late 1990s. However, like elsewhere, in Cyprus, European Union (EU) admission and its prospect, as well as the ensuing Europeanisation and other transnationalisation processes have brought about changes in political opportunity structures (Helfferich & Kolb, 2001; Marks & McAdam, 1999). These changes facilitated LGBTI mobilization across the island and the formation of coalitions and joint actions between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot LGBTI organisations (Kamenou, 2011; Kamenou, 2012; Kamenou, 2016; Kamenou, 2019a; Kamenou, 2020).
Citation : Kamenou, N., Ethemer, E., Gavrielides, C., Bullici, O. (2019) The LGBTI Movement in Cyprus: Activism, Law, and Change Across the Divide.
ISBN : 9789963202164
Research Institute : Media Discourse Centre (MDC)