Northern Cyprus is set to decriminalise homosexuality, bringing it in line with European Union (EU) laws and human rights in the rest of the country.
Current laws in the Turkish Cypriot controlled part of the country regard homosexuality as “a crime against nature,” but all is about to change after analysts said it is vital to make the change to bring the country into modern society.
Turkish Cypriot psychologist Mehment Cakici told the Cyprus Mail: “We need this change in order to transform ourselves into a modern society. The right of a person to express his or her sexuality is a fundamental human right.”
Legislation presently threatens up to 14 years in prison for homosexual activity, although no one has been jailed in the last five years.
The law remains from the era of British colonial rule.
Dr Cakici says there are many “outdated attitudes” amongst the population, “I have had parents who come to me asking me to cure their sons of homosexuality, naturally, these young people feel alienated, and are often deeply depressed.”
The proposal, which comes as Turkey aims to be granted membership of the EU, has been greeted as a “positive step” by the gay community, but some remain sceptical. Hasan told the Cyprus Mail: “People are not openly gay because of social rather than legal reasons. Image is important; you do not want to bring shame on your family.”
His partner Rauf said it is an important change for education, “People are very ignorant about using condoms. They all think ‘this could never happen to me’. Perhaps now people will talk more openly about the dangers,” he said.
Northern Cyprus does not fall under EU law because of disputes over who owns it. It is generally known as the Turkish Republic of Cyprus, Remsiye, a lesbian, says the law would help the population become more European, “There is an awful lot of homosexual activity behind closed doors, but it will come out in the open once it is legal.
“I know people who have seen the potential and are already planning to open ‘straight friendly’ places for gays,”
She says it will be nice to feel protected by law.