Following reports of two men being arrested for gay sex, rights activists in Northern Cyprus are calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Homofobiye Karsi Inisiyatif (Initiative Against Homophobia) has been campaigning for years to have the penal code changed and says the recent case is evidence that lawmakers must act urgently.
Kibris newspaper reported that the men were arrested for having “unnatural intercourse” in a hostel in Nicosia on July 20th.
If convicted, they face up to five years in prison.
Unlike Cyprus, the Northern Republic still has British colonial laws against homosexuality.
A statement from Homofobiye Karsi Inisiyatif said: “On the 20th July, 2011 we have been informed of yet another tyranny practiced over our bodies. Two men have been taken into custody by the police with charges of ‘sexual relations against nature’ upon complaints by neighbours.
“Chapter 154 of the penal code still prohibits certain sexual acts among adults regardless of their sexuality under the pretence of ‘sexual relations against nature’.”
The group says legislators often claim that the law is “no longer in effect” but the recent arrests prove otherwise.
The statement continues: “We call upon the government of the TRNC [The Republic of Northern Cyprus] and its political parties to amend this law, which has been referred to the Constitutional Court … [and] to prepare and put into effect laws observing basic human rights to enable the de-listing of TRNC from the list of countries practicing homophobia through the government in Europe.
“We believe that it is the state’s responsibility to protect the human rights of every citizen who lives in this country.”