North part of Cyprus denies gay arrests; refuses moratorium
London 8 February 2012 – Following reports of recent arrests for homosexual acts in the northern part of Cyprus Marina Yannakoudakis MEP wrote to Turkish Cypriot leader Dr. Derviş Eroğlu condemning the arrests, calling for charges to be dropped and asking for a moratorium on further arrests. The Conservative MEP for London, who has been campaigning for the repeal of the ban on homosexuality in the northern part of the island, today received a reply from Dr. Hasan Güngör, an advisor to Dr. Eroğlu.
In Dr. Güngör’s letter he states: “Contrary to what has been insinuated in the media, no charges have so far been brought against the two men with respect to same sexual relations.”
The letter goes on to say: “The police investigation on that incident is ongoing and once the investigation is completed, the Attorney General’s Office will make the necessary legal evaluation and decide on the charges to be brought against the accused.”
Dr. Güngör rejected calls for a moratorium stating that “The legislation in force does not authorize (Dr. Eroğlu) to impose a moratorium on arrests under section 171 of the Criminal Code, or to ‘suspend’ the implementation of any law.”
On a more positive note, Dr. Güngör stated that the process to repeal the law was before the relevant committee and awaiting assessment by the relevant authorities. Dr. Güngör also made clear that “The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) prevails over domestic law”.
Finally, the letter states that Dr. Eroğlu “stands by his promise that, once the legislative process is completed he will sign the amending law that will repeal the relevant sections of the Criminal Code to end the criminalization of unnatural offences”.
Marina Yannakoudakis MEP said: “I am pleased to receive such a speedy reply to my letter to Dr. Eroğlu’s office. Recognition by the authorities that the European Convention of Human Rights applies in the north part of Cyprus means that by prohibiting private consensual homosexual acts the north is in violation of Article 8.”
“I am also pleased to note that Dr. Eroğlu intends to ‘stand by his promise’ to repeal the ban, although I am disappointed that an immediate moratorium has been rejected.”
“Nevertheless I am concerned that, while no official charges have been brought against the two men detained on 29 January, that these men remain under investigation. Also I was informed by the north-based Initiative Against Homophobia that they are currently being held in punishment cells in Nicosia Central prison. I hope that if the north part of Cyprus is to demonstrate its commitment to human rights, that no further charges will be brought for homosexual acts.”
Marina is a member of the European Parliament’s High-Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot Community.