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23 May, 2024
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United by Pride: A bold step towards human rights and peace in Cyprus

Intercommunal Pride march unites communities for equality and harmony in Nicosia

Ioanna Kyriakou

An important event for human rights and peace in Cyprus is set to take place in Nicosia on Saturday, June 17. It is the "United by Pride" Intercommunal Pride March, featuring two parallel marches starting at 18:00 from two central locations in Nicosia: Eleftherias Square and Kougioulou Park. The marches will converge at Ledra Palace in the buffer zone around 19:00, serving as a symbolic gathering place where the event will continue with music and two drag shows until 23:00."United by Pride" is the first intercommunal Pride event in Cyprus, in which communities other than Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots participate.

Political action

"The issues of separation, which extend beyond sexuality, are interconnected with the rest of Cyprus. They arise from various perspectives and adopt an interdisciplinary approach," stated Alexandros Efstathiou in an interview with "K" on behalf of the "Queer Collective Cy," one of the co-organizing groups. Efstathiou's message emphasizes the importance of justice, peace, and unity. He further added that the objective is to demonstrate that we cannot perceive Cyprus in isolation but instead recognize the existence of shared struggles that must be overcome. This includes addressing the topics of peace in Cyprus and reconciliation. Efstathiou emphasized their active participation in this ongoing process, highlighting their role as stakeholders."The flag in the photo was divided into two pieces, half came from the Greek Cypriot community and the other half from the Turkish Cypriot side, and when the march arrived in front of the Home for Cooperation, the participants sewed it.

Mr. Efstathiou clarified that "United by Pride" is not apolitical because the issues of the LGBTQ+ community cannot be separated from other concerns that affect society, such as economic status, social trends, national identity, and immigration. He emphasized that all these factors are intertwined and contribute to an individual's personality and existence. As a result, they consider their activism to be inherently political.The action took shape last year when the restrictive measures against the pandemic were lifted and organizations on both sides seemed willing to work together to achieve it.

With regards to the verbal assaults targeting LGBTQ+ individuals under social media posts that have garnered public attention in recent days, Mr. Efstathiou stated, "We firmly believe that no one's right to be offended should undermine our shared humanity. Just because someone's religious beliefs were insulted, whether within Cyprus or abroad, it does not grant them the authority to question our very existence."Mr. Efstathiou explained that "United by Pride" is not apolitical as the issues of the LGBTQI community are not detached from other issues that concern society.

A collective endeavor

"United by Pride" is the inaugural intercommunal Pride event in Cyprus, where various communities, not limited to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, come together. It is entirely self-funded and organized by the participating organizations, including Queer Collective Cy, Queer Cyprus Association, LGBTQIA+ & Allies Students Club at the University of Cyprus, LGBT Pilipinas, African LGBTIQ+ Community Cyprus, LGBTQ+ Cypriot Diaspora, and European University Cyprus LGBTQI+ Society."Segregation issues, which do not only concern sexuality, are not isolated from the rest of Cyprus. They come from various sides, they have an interdisciplinary approach," Efstathiou said.

It is worth noting that "United by Pride" is being organized for the second year, a development that has been prominent in the past decade, despite the absence of conducive conditions and a common goal within the two communities. The initiative gained momentum last year when pandemic restrictions were lifted, and organizations from both sides demonstrated a willingness to collaborate towards its realization.

Cyprus  |  LGBTQI+  |  diplomacy

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