Last week, openly gay MEP Michael Cashman met leaders and non-governmental organisations in the northern part of Cyprus, advocating for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Northern Cyprus is the last territory in Europe where homosexuality is a crime.

Michael Cashman MEP visited the northern part of Cyprus on 12 and 13 April, where he met Members of Parliament and party leaders, Speaker of the Parliament Hasan Bozer, Prime Minister Irsen Küçük, and President Derviş Eroğlu.

Talks focused on the need for a comprehensive review of local laws, which currently punish homosexuality with up to five years in prison.

Several arrests had taken place in recent months, prompting the visit.

All agreed that urgent changes included decriminalising same-sex activity; equalising the age of consent for both same-sex and different-sex intercourse; and defining rape more clearly.

A live TV show on homosexuality was also broadcast on local TV channel Kanal Sim.

Reshat Shaban from Queer Cyprus Association declared: “Thanks to Michael’s visit to northern Cyprus, our demands for equal rights were heard by political leaders. Undoubtedly, most pressing for us is to fully decriminalise homosexuality, equalise the age of consent and better protect LGBTQ people under the law.”

Michael Cashman, Co-president of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, concluded: “All my interlocutors agreed local laws need updating urgently. Now the Parliament must do its work, and align the Criminal Code with binding European standards.”