There is about one report of physical attack against LGBTI people every two months in Cyprus, says the President’s adviser on diversity and multiculturalism and former president of Accept Costas Gavrielides.
He was interviewed by Phileleftheros on occasion of May 17, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
“It is estimated that one incident of physical attack is reported every two months. However, this is only the percentage of the reports that were officially filed as homophobic or transphobic,” Gavrielides said, highlighting that there may be more attacks against LGBTI people taking place in Cyprus that are not defined as such.
“Last month a group of friends were punched and verbally abused outside a bakery in Nicosia, because of their sexual orientation. Although the police appeared, according to the victims, they did not seem very keen on proceeding with filing formal complaints,” Gavrielides said.
On top of this, LGBTI people regularly face verbal abuse, Gavrielides added. “Someone may swear at you in school or at the workplace. The number of these attacks is worryingly high and a daily phenomenon for many LGBTI people.
“Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals and intersex people in Cyprus, as in other countries, must find ways to face physical and verbal attacks. Physical attacks that lead to real bodily harm do happen,” he said.
Cyprus ranked 33rd out of 49 European countries for LGBTI rights
Asked to comment on a recent report by ILGA-Europe which ranked Cyprus 33rd among 49 European countries as regards the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, Gavrielides said that the results are very disappointing and worrisome.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t unexpected. Cyrus is also 23rd among 28 EU countries. Which means that it dropped two places since last year. What I really find sad is that Malta, a country that was in the same place as us a few years ago, now has the top spot.”
Legal obstacles against equality
Gavrielides noted that there are big delays in the passing of laws to combat discrimination against the LGBTI community. “For example, the draft of the gender identity bill should have already been voted. It is with great sadness that I realise that despite all the efforts, it has not even been submitted to Parliament yet, and it has been for months now undergoing legal review in the Law Office.”
The bill will make possible for people to change their gender identity in public documents.
Under the proposed bill, the gender of each individual on their ID papers will be recorded according to how they identify and not on what is recorded on their birth certificate. Individuals will be allowed to apply to the district office and ask for a change in their registered gender to that which they identify with.
Cyprus is the last EU member state not to have adopted legislation on the legal recognition of gender identity.
Laws that do not permit the adoption of children by LGBTI people lead them to “illegal processes and even migration,” Gavrielides said on the fact that the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual ,transgender, and intersex people is not legal in Cyprus.
“Our refusal to recognise that there are LGBTI families creates problems, especially to the children of these families.”
For example, if an LGBTI couple breaks up, the child is not allowed to receive support, as in the case of children of heterosexual couples.
Also, in the case of a family where the parents are lesbians, only the birth mother has custody of the child.
“We must fight the fear against same-sex couples and adoption, which is based on ignorance. For decades now, studies have been clear. Children of same-sex families are not at a disadvantage, but to the contrary, many times are in an advantageous position, psychologically, to children of heterosexual families, as they are a result of a very conscious choice by their parents,” Gavrielides concluded.