An advisor to the leader in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus has said today that no charges have yet been brought against two men arrested for committing gay sex acts.

Conservative MEP for London Marina Yannakoudakis MEP had written to Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Derviş Eroğlu condemning the arrests, calling for charges to be dropped and asking for a moratorium on further arrests.

A challenge at the European Court of Human Rights of the anti-gay laws in the unrecognised state was announced yesterday.

Marina Yannakoudakis’s office said Dr. Hasan Güngör, an advisor to Dr. Eroğlu, had responded to her today saying the men had not yet been charged and the leader is not able to impose a moratorium on arrests.

In Dr. Güngör’s letter, the advisor states: “Contrary to what has been insinuated in the media, no charges have so far been brought against the two men with respect to same sexual relations.”

He continues: “The police investigation on that incident is ongoing and once the investigation is completed, the Attorney General’s Office will make the necessary legal evaluation and decide on the charges to be brought against the accused.”

On forbidding any future arrests under the law, Dr. Güngör wrote: “The legislation in force does not authorize (Dr. Eroğlu) to impose a moratorium on arrests under section 171 of the Criminal Code, or to ‘suspend’ the implementation of any law.”

However, Dr. Güngör stated that measures to repeal the anti-gay law were before the relevant committee and were awaiting assessment by the relevant authorities.

Dr. Güngör also made clear that “The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) prevails over domestic law”.

The letter also says Dr. Eroğlu “stands by his promise that, once the legislative process is completed he will sign the amending law that will repeal the relevant sections of the Criminal Code to end the criminalization of unnatural offences”.

Northern Cyprus declared itself an independent state in 1983 but has not had international recognition.

Marina Yannakoudakis MEP said today: “I am pleased to receive such a speedy reply to my letter to Dr. Eroğlu’s office. Recognition by the authorities that the European Convention of Human Rights applies in the north part of Cyprus means that by prohibiting private consensual homosexual acts the north is in violation of Article 8.

“I am also pleased to note that Dr. Eroğlu intends to ‘stand by his promise’ to repeal the ban, although I am disappointed that an immediate moratorium has been rejected.

“Nevertheless I am concerned that, while no official charges have been brought against the two men detained on 29 January, that these men remain under investigation.

“Also I was informed by the north-based Initiative Against Homophobia that they are currently being held in punishment cells in Nicosia Central prison. I hope that if the north part of Cyprus is to demonstrate its commitment to human rights, that no further charges will be brought for homosexual acts.”