North Cyprus leader: Proposal to repeal anti-gay laws “has been submitted”

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A Conservative MEP who lobbied the leader of Northern Cyprus to repeal the self-declared state’s anti-gay laws said yesterday he had written to her confirming that the proposal had been drafted.

Marina Yannakoudakis, who represents London in Strasbourg, had been visiting Nicolosia as part of her role on an EU group for relationships with the Turkish Cypriot community when she spoke with Derviş Eroğlu about decriminalisation.

Northern Cyprus, which declared itself an independent state in 1983 but has not had international recognition, currently criminalises gay sexual acts under sections 171 and 173 of its penal code. Northern Cyprus is not a member of the EU, and is not bound by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ms Yannakoudakis visited the divided city of Nicosia after three men were arrested on “suspicion of conspiring to have a sexual intercourse against the order of nature”.

She said she urged Dr Eroğlu to repeal the laws which criminalise gay sex, and to implement laws which protect children from abuse.

Confirming the action he promised in October, Dr Eroğlu said: “The draft proposal for the repeal of the part of the Criminal Code, Chapter 154, which penalizes same sex sexual activity has been submitted to the general Assembly on 25 October 2011 by a political party, the Communal Democracy Party. This draft legislation states that not only girls and women but also boys and men can be victims of rape and sexual abuse.”

“We gave our considered opinion to the Government that the draft proposal concerned should be adopted and section 171 should be abolished without delay.”

Marina said: “I am pleased that Dr. Eroğlu has honoured the promise he made to me in October. There have been a number of concerns about human rights in the northern part of Cyprus.

“By agreeing to decriminalise homosexuality Dr. Eroğlu is taking concrete measures to ensure those living in the north part of Cyprus may enjoy the same human rights as their fellow Europeans.

“I am also pleased that new legislation will protect children, especially boys, from sexual abuse. The anti-gay law had left an enormous hole in the justice system allowing children to go unprotected from rape and abuse.”