Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

Cyprus is least gay-friendly EU country, rights group says

  • A key EU anti-discrimination law has stalled (Photo: *Bloco)

The struggle for equal rights and humane treatment by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Europe is gaining ground in the European Parliament, where some 20 percent of MEPs recently signed up to pledge support.

But outside the micro-world of the EU institutions they still face widespread discrimination.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Cyprus is the least gay-friendly EU country followed by Italy, Latvia and Malta, the Brussels-based rights group ILGA-Europe says.

Greek-controlled Cyprus scores badly on several fronts, such as non-recognition of same-sex marriages. While in northern Cyprus - technically part of the EU, but controlled by separatist Turkish authorities - the situation is acute.

Homosexuality is illegal and authorities have made several arrests in recent months. The defendants - which include former Greek Cypriot finance minister Michael Sarris - could get five years in prison.

Marina Yannakoudakis, a UK conservative MEP visited northern Cyprus in October and appealed to the Turkish Cypriot leader to dissolve the ban. "There has been a slight increase of arrests over homosexuality and we are worried that the ban will not be lifted," her policy adviser, Matthew Green told this website.

Not a single EU country can claim full legal equality for LGBT people, ILGA-Europe notes.

The 'Be Bothered' parliament pledge campaign - launched by the NGO - aims to amend current European directives to designate homophobia and transphobia as hate crimes and to introduce minimum EU-wide standards for protecting the minorities.

Most member states still do not recognise such hate crimes, ILGA-Europe notes.

"Not enough is being done on EU legislation. The EU directive on discrimination has been stuck for three years mostly because of Germany's refusal to sign over concerns that it is too costly to implement," the NGO's Juris Lavrikovs told EUobserver.

On the shelf

The commission proposed the anti-discrimination directive in 2008. It covers a broad range of minorities, such as disabled people, elderly people, ethnic and religious groups and lesbians, gays and bisexuals. It does not include transgender people.

Activists are struggling to generate a renewed interest in the bill at EU leader level.

Germany - along with seven-or-so other EU states - is saying that anti-discrimination law is a national competence.

Meanwhile, a 2011 commission bill on better treatment of crime victims - affecting up to 75 million EU citizens each year - has irked NGOs by excluding hate crimes.

Amnesty International's Veronica Scognamiglio said: "We think that it is important to explicitly include victims of hate crimes, including LGBT people."

Said - who does not want to reveal his full name - from Belgium's intercultural organisation, Merhaba, which targets gay Muslims, told EUobserver: "We are not only facing homophobia and transphobia, but also paternalism, racism and Islamophobia, and this also within our own [LGBT] communities."

He added: "Being both Arab and gay for instance, we wish to be accepted for being both. In whatever the EU undertakes, we expect a global approach. You cannot fight one phobia with another."

Cyprus gets set to referee EU budget talks

The incoming Cypriot presidency is getting ready to tackle the biggest and ugliest dossier in the EU - the money - amid problems in its own backyard.

Feature

Children? Only if state permits it, says Romanian mayor

The mayor of the Romanian city of Targu Mures has said that the state should screen would-be parents for proof of a stable workplace, financial resources, basic education and the legal minimum age required to care for children.

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Feature

Paradox: Nordics' privileged youth feel miserable

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world - yet many of them feel miserable. The Nordic Council is concerned and aims to find out why.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  2. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis
  3. EU fighting shortages and faulty medical supplies
  4. New EU navy operation to keep migrant details secret
  5. MEP: Constituents are our window into this tragedy
  6. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  7. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  8. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us