February 21, 2019

IGLYO Member of the Month: Queer Cyprus Association

LGBTQI

This year, IGLYO is celebrating its 35th anniversary and we want you in the centre of the celebration! Queer Cyprus Association is our amazing member of the month.

This is a message for all of us from Queer Cyprus Association

United we stand, divided we fall, We are here we are queer we won’t disappear!

A little bit of history and memorable moments

 

Queer Cyprus Association initially came together as Initiative Against Homophobia (HOKI). In 2007 HOKI applied to the local authorities in Northern Cyprus to become a fully established and recognised association. In 2008 HOKI presented a request to repeal 171, 172, and 173 of Punishment Regulations-Chapter 154 along with a resolution to Fatma Ekenoglu, the head of the Parliamentary of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. “We stated the rules “provide the main framework for regulating discrimination against sexual orientation, and they have not been revised since British colonial time.”

In 2010 HOKI organized an international conference, “Solidarity and Networking Conference Cyprus 2010,” in co-operation with the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) – Europe and hosted by the Journalists Union. The event emphasized that homosexuality is recognized as a crime and assessed this is a “violation of human rights.” In July 2011 “two men were arrested and charged with ‘unnatural intercourse.’” following neighbour’s complaints, and accusations have been made that one of them was “bringing men home”. “The judge said they should be held in custody for a day.” HOKI publicised the case and others followed suit including LGBTQI organisations from Greece, Malta, Turkey, Albania and Cyprus, who supported HOKI and reiterated calls for a change in the law. In a similar incident in October 2011, five men, one of whom was a former Republic of Cyprus Minister of Finance, were arrested over a few days and detained on charges of “unnatural intercourse.” During remand hearings all the detainees apart from the former minister reported being beaten by the police. HOKI raised alarm at the arrests which led to protests from Members of the European Parliament, and international human rights organisations. HOKI also put forward that the Cyprus north media, in their reporting, normalized attitudes of hatred and fed “homophobic reports and comments to the public.” The story was covered by local and international media, raising the issue of the continued existence and use of the law. The men were released on bail. HOKI led a group of NGOs to declare “The current law in effect does not protect the rights of the children nor the rights of people’s control over their own bodies. It aims to protect the ‘morality’ of the society.”

Also in 2011 HOKI hosted ILGA-Europe’s family exhibition Different Families, Same Love in Nicosia (north). The opening included a range of media including state television with the exhibition receiving positive press coverage and provided a different and positive facets of the LGBT community to the general public.

In March 2012, HOKI has gone through a constitutional amendment and continues its work under its new name Queer Cyprus Association. QCA aims to promote equal rights for LGBTI people in Cyprus and to eliminate discriminations based on gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and gender identity. It has been a member of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) since 2011. In August the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has agreed to examine a legal challenge against Turkey for the north’s continued failure to repeal a law banning homosexuality, Queer Cyprus Association said Turkey must now defend the legacy of British colonialism at the ECHR. On 27 January 2014, lawmakers in northern Cyprus abolished Criminal Code provisions which punished consensual sexual acts between adult men with five years of imprisonment and instead adopted new provisions that criminalised libel based on hate towards actual or perceived sexual orientation gender identity and expression psychological and economic violence based on these grounds as well as discrimination on these grounds in accessing public services.

This led the first pride march in the northern part of Cyprus on 17th of May 2014 organised by Queer Cyprus . Subsequently, pride march in the north Cyprus have been organised by Queer Cyprus in 2015 as well. On 11 November 2015, Queer Cyprus in cooperation with Cyprus Community Media Centre and Thomson Foundation started 2 years European Union financed Unspoken Project.On 17th of May 2016, following the open call from Kuir Cyprus together with Envision Diversity and MAGEM 17th May Organisation Committee was formed and 11 civil society organisations and Gender Equality Platform representing 21 political parties, trade unions, civil society organisations co-organised a series of events and a march during the week of International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia.

 

What will happen in 2019?

The Diversity of Colurs Project started on December 2018 and will continue for 3 years. The Diversity of Colours Project gave a start with the slogan, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and more (LGBTI+), a Diversity of Colours Project for a Cyprus where all colours can coexist!” and the project aims to improve access of LGBTI+’s to human rights and to prevent discrimination in the northern part of Cyprus. Project launch will be in the beginning of March which will host 10th Anniversary exhibition of Queer Cyprus as well. Within the framework of the project various activities will be organized in cooperation with partner organizations.

Among the activities to be organized there are in-house capacity building activities, trainings toward psychologists and lawyers, internship programme and working with volunteers, media monitoring, fund raising activities, newsletters, local meetings against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, international conferences in cooperation with universities, booklets related with LGBTI+ issues, attitude-based research, providing legal, psychological and social consultancy services to LGBTI+’s and strategic litigation.

Apart from the project Diversity of Colours Queer Cyprus will continue to organize IDOHBIT in May together with the 17th of May Organising Committee.

What makes Queer Cyprus Association unique?

Queer Cyprus combats all forms of discrimination towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sexual Expression! Similarly to most countries in the world, Cyprus has a system which only supports relationships and sexuality among individuals from opposite sex and claims that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation. Queer Cyprus aims at transforming the heterosexist society into one that is equalitarian and accepting of diversity; and also supports the diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual expression by challenging heterosexism which ignores, degrades and oppresses all other sexual orientations. Besides heterosexism, heteronormativity also organizes sexual orientation and the society itself in accordance with “norms” by abnormalizing and ignoring various sexual practices, orientations and identities, and by establishing the “normal” based on heterosexual relationships. Therefore, Queer Cyprus envisions a society in which individuals are not subject to any form of violence due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual expression and continues their cause to achieve this objective.

Queer Cyprus is Feminist! Queer Cyprus stands against the patriarchal and capitalist system which centralizes power and dominates all other identities and orientations. The association is aware of the fact that capitalism and patriarchy are intertwining; however, they also believe that the patriarchal system can’t be reduced to the two concepts. Queer Cyprus is against all types of discrimination towards gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual expression and gender which are shaped and reproduced by power and consequently by social relations. They refuse to exist in a normative order which defines the society through dichotomies such as female/male and nature/mind. Therefore, they defend a feminist movement that is against dichotomies and the normative female perception and also believe that varieties can exist together. They are a Queer, feminist movement which question the conditions and consequences of identities, without disregarding identity politics.

Queer Cyprus is Antimilitarist! Beyond wars and armies, militarism is a total of systems, understandings and precepts that shape minds, physical living spaces and everyday life. Militarism is constructed on and imposes on fixed heterosexist gender perceptions. It idealizes physically strong, public and aggressive masculinity and powerless, obedient and passive femininity. As long as LGBTI individuals and queer activism questions these precepts, they will always have a struggle with militarism and always be perceived as a threat. Militarism, which forms a hierarchy on a nationalist basis deciding on who is worthy of living and who is worthy of being ruled out, is the absolute opposite of queer activism which believes that ethnic and cultural differences create richness. Therefore, Queer Cyprus supports the antimilitarist movement.

Queer Cyprus is Ecologist! Queer Cyprus refuses the notions that nature only exists to fulfill human needs and that it is only used to ensure the continuation of human beings. The association does not believe that human beings are the master of nature, instead sees them as species that have to integrate themselves into nature. Queer Cyprus, arguing that the patriarchal system domesticates and dominates anything that is different in order to exist and that the system has a similar relationship with nature, fights to change this notion. Queer Cyprus stands against the uncontrolled consumption approach which is imposed by capitalism through all forms of production that take place with the exploitation of nature. One of the goals of the association is to establish the organizational practices on ecological production and consumption understandings by adopting a “consume what you need, as much as you need” approach.

Queer Cyprus is Anti-Capitalist! According to Queer Cyprus, anti-capitalism does not mean escaping from everything and shutting oneself away in a cave. We are aware that we can’t exclude ourselves from capitalism and that not all means of capitalism are necessarily negative; therefore, we continue our movement within the existing system and stand against it as far as possible. The capitalist system which promises better living conditions, attempts at creating so-called wonderful lives and leads to an increase in overconsumption and exploitation of labor, and also decreases the well-being of nature, animals and human beings. Therefore, we observe and question capitalism’s negative impacts on all creatures and perceive capital as a tool to achieve our objectives rather than an objective itself. The Queer Cyprus Association believes that not being internalized by the capitalist system for reasons such as homosexual couples not being able to reproduce, not being included in/not requesting to be a part of military can be seen as an advantage and the association will not take part in pink washing which has recently become popular.

Queer Cyprus is Veganist! Animals are treated as assets in the society we live in. They are categorized as objects which can be used, priced, transferred for our benefit; they are perceived as a dish on a plate, a product in a shopping isle and the fact that they are living creatures is completely ignored. This means that animals do not have any rights. For a living creature that can feel, to be treated as an asset is equal to slavery which means all animals are used as slaves. Queer Cyprus rejects a world in which human beings are superior while all other living creatures exist to serve them. As racism, sexism, heterosexism and classism, speciesism feeds off the same problematic ideologies while devaluing other living and feeling creatures’ right to live. Therefore, Queer Cyprus pursues policies to raise its members’ awareness towards exploitation of animals and avoids using animals as property in organized events.

 

This is how we see the potential of youth activism in the LGBTQI movement

Queer Cyprus is also part of the youth activism and planning to do capacity building on how to empower young people to engage more with LGBTI+ movement in Cyprus. Young people are the key figures of the change and movement. Together with the changing world and technology, young people will combat the discrimination

Website by Haiwyre