cold turkey

Europe Alarmed As North Cyprus Routinely Arrests Men For Having Gay Sex

Gay sex may not be a crime in Cyprus or Turkey, but Turkish-controlled North Cyprus is still enforcing an antiquated law dating back to the British colonial era that punishes sodomy with up to five years in prison.

Two inmates in a jail in the city of Nicosia appeared in court this Sunday to fend off charges of having “sexual intercourse against the order of nature,” BBC News reports. This isn’t an isolated occurrence, either—it’s the third time in eight months that the old law, which was introduced in 1929 but effectively repealed in the late ’90s, has been invoked.

Cypriot legislators say they are working on ratifying a full repeal—one was submitted last October but never voted on or debated.

Reshat Shaban of Initiative Against Homophobia, an international LGBT rights group, told the BBC: “The repeal stayed only in words—no further action has been taken.”

Alarm from European politicians will hopefully speed up the process: Marina Yannakoudakis, who is a member of the European Parliament’s High-Level Contact Group for Relations with the Turkish Cypriot Community (the Low-Level Contact Group must be busy addressing small talk), said she’ll be pushing for faster action:

“There must be an immediate moratorium on arrests under Section 171 and the men arrested last month must be released without delay. Draft legislation submitted by the Communal Democratic Party must be fast-tracked through the assembly to ensure that there are no further miscarriages of justice.”

No further miscarriages of justice, indeed.

Photo: Martin Belam