Cyprus Pride march to highlight the lack of LGBT rights

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Organisers say the first Pride march to take place in Cyprus will highlight the lack of LGBT rights in the country.

Cyprus is set to hold its first ever pride event on Saturday, sixteen years after a law banning homosexuality was repealed.

Authorities in the island’s Turkish Cypriot north, a self-declared state recognised only by Ankara, repealed a similar law in February. A Pride march was held there on 17 May.

Same-sex couples in Cyprus do not receive the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to social housing and other benefits.

The International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) ranks Cyprus among the lowest of all European countries for LGBT rights.

Costa Gavrielides, from Accept – LGBT Cyprus, said: “Nothing has happened to improve the legal rights of LGBT [citizens] since 1998.

“We are strongly pushing for this to materialise… We believe that society has moved on much more than politicians.”

He added that social attitudes are changing and that the Pride march would push LGBT rights forward and put the island’s LGBT community “into the limlight.”

In March, the Archbishop of Cyprus was condemned by politicians in the European Parliament, after he said that governments had “weakened” their “moral integrity” through equal rights.

The Cyprus Orthodox Church has described being gay as an “illness which needs treatment”.

A religious group said it plans the counter march on Saturday.