With the decriminalisation of homosexuality occurring only in 1998, following the condemnation by the Cyprus Church and bitter public arguing between people and politicians who blamed the European Court of Human Rights for the dilution of local family values, little seem to have changed as far as the political rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex (LGBTI) community in Cyprus are concerned. With the inability to shake off a vivid stigma against homosexuality, most LGBTI’s choose to hide their sexuality and worse still project a “heterosexual” image for their way of life where possible. Only a handful dare speak in public about their experiences or lifestyle, leading to everyday Cypriots thinking that homosexuality is something rare and a choice of the few. Only in 2011, Cyprus was declared the most homophobic country in the EU by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) – Europe.
As such, the organisation of a Cyprus Pride Festival had been an elusive dream for many decades as it translates the level of maturity of our society regarding acceptance. A Pride Festival embodies the will of the LGBTI people to be heard and be accepted as equals, not to be discriminated upon or have their human rights diminished by others because of their own personal beliefs and religious affiliations.
This year, the 4th Cyprus Pride Parade will be held on May 28th. Our goal is to discuss the subject of gender identity, looking forward towards a future with better living conditions for trans persons and equal opportunities. By focusing on trans persons, we wish to send the message that trans persons are among us, they are equal citizens of this country, with the same rights and obligations just like each and every one of us. It is time to stop pretending they are invisible.
Cyprus Pride Festival Mission
To provide an annual opportunity to generate celebratory, cultural, artistic and educational events which affirm the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex people and supporters through activities which promote unity, inclusion, and awareness of sexual and gender diversity.
Cyprus Pride Festival Objectives
- Promote Acceptance for all with a particular focus on people of different sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Promote the freedom of expressing oneself without society, or even, self-enforced censorship.
- Promote the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
- Enhance visibility of the LGBTI persons.
- Cultivate a sentiment in favor of equality and diversity, challenging prejudice.
- Raise awareness about the struggles of the local LGBTI community in the general public.
- Promote tangible legislative changes to help LGBTI life in Cyprus, such as the Civil Partnership Draft Bill and Criminalization of homophobic speech.