Last Law in Europe Criminalizing Homosexuality is Scrapped, in First Win for the Human Dignity Trust

Press Statement from Human Dignity Trust

London-based legal organisation the Human Dignity Trust, which exists to support local challenges to anti-gay laws, is today celebrating its first win.

Northern Cyprus was, until today, the last jurisdiction in Europe to criminalise gay people. Homosexual acts between adult males were punishable by 5 years in prison in Turkish Northern Cyprus due to an antiquated law, a hangover from British colonial rule.

The Human Dignity Trust launched a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights to the existence of this law in January 2012, citing that it breached international human rights law, as well as Northern Cyprus’ own constitution. The Northern Cypriot Parliament soon after undertook to examine the provisions in their Criminal Code that made homosexual acts against the law.

Today lawmakers abolished these provisions, thereby decriminalising homosexuality in Northern Cyprus and, effectively, in Europe.

Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust, said:

“This is a historic day for gay people in Europe and a major victory for human rights, equality and the Human Dignity Trust.

Our case before the European Court required the law to be changed. Nowhere in Europe now still criminalises gay people and we are proud to say that we have played a significant role in bringing this shameful chapter in European history to an end.

Laws against private, consenting homosexual acts between adults criminalise someone’s very identity and have no place in the modern world.

These pernicious anti-gay laws, which protect no one and cause deep distress and harm to gay and lesbian people, still exist in 82 legal jurisdictions. But that is one fewer than yesterday, and this we must celebrate.”

Though the Northern Cypriot Parliament has voted in favour of amending the Criminal Code to decriminalise homosexual acts, the final stage in the process requires the President’s assent, which he is expected to give within 15 days.

The Human Dignity Trust’s case has been supported by the Northern Cypriot LGBT organisation Queer Cyprus (formerly ‘Initiative Against Homophobia’). The legal team, led by Nigel Pleming QC, includes Northern Cypriot lawyer Oncel Polili and Tom Mountford. Instructing solicitors are international law firm and member of the Human Dignity Trust’s legal panel, Taylor Wessing LLP

Related Content: 

Northern Cyprus votes to legalise gay sex – The Guardian

Gay sex legalized in northern Cyprus – Euronews

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