Recognizing that Cyprus has taken substantial steps toward institutionalizing equality and safeguarding the fundamental rights of the island’s LGBT community, Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides has highlighted that there is still work to be done in eradicating the reality of enduring acts of discrimination.
In an announcement issued to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Lottides said that the progress that has been marked in terms of LGBT rights is of particular importance, “especially given that until a few years ago, these issues were addressed with embarrassment and disrepute.”
While a fundamental step forward for the global LGBT community was made some 30 years ago, when the WHO moved to declassify homosexuality as a ‘mental disorder’ on May 17 1990, the milestone for the Cyprus legal system came three years later, when an appeal filed in the European Court of Human Rights by Andreas Modinou led to significant shifts in local legislation, and particularly to the decriminalization of homosexuality.
Since then, Lottides said, Cyprus has made important strides in eliminating discrimination against the LGBT community, by criminalizing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric as hate speech, legally recognizing civil partnership among same-sex couples, launching initiatives to eradicate homophobic and transphobic elements in the educational system, and through the state-enacted legislative regulation for the recognition of gender identity.
Lottides added that Cyprus marked a “small but promising” rise from position 23 to 19 in the annual ILGA-Europe rankings, which take into account the indicators of respect, equality, and protection of the rights of the LGBT community.
But despite the progress of recent decades, “daily discrimination against LGBT people continues to be a reality,” Lottides stressed.
As such, the Ombudswoman added, the “deconstruction of deep-rooted stereotypes that permeate our society regarding sexual behaviour should remain our main goal in dealing effectively with homophobia and transphobia.”
Lottides stressed that “it must be recognized that policies, attitudes, and behaviours that constitute discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity affect the core of human dignity.”
She concluded that the fight is a collective one, as for change to come about, “the will of political leaders is not enough, our participation is necessary, the participation of each of us to consolidate the respect, acceptance and protection of all differences.”