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First Cyprus Pride Festival to take place in Nicosia end of May

14 May, 2014

The first Cyprus Pride Festival on the island will take place in Nicosia on Saturday, May 31st, it was announced here today at a press conference at the EU House, on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is celebrated every year on the 17th of May.

Cypriot EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vasiliou, in a televised message, welcomed the fact that the first Pride Festival will take place in Cyprus, saying that it is of paramount importance that diversity is accepted.

President of the Accept – LGBT Cyprus (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), Kostas Gavriilides, said that Accept dreams of a society, free from discrimination and prejudice and based on the respect for each citizen and the acceptance of diversity, especially in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity.

He added that according to the European ranking of countries relating to the legal, political and social framework of rights enjoyed by the LGBT people in each country, Cyprus is "at the bottom of the EU together with Latvia" and asked the government to take action.

In his speech, Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, George Markopouliotis said that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in all countries of the European Union are falling daily victims of violence, exclusion and discrimination. As a result, he added, some of them are forced to hide their identity.

Deputy Head of the European Parliament Office in Cyprus, Alexandra Attalides, said that the European Parliament plays a leading role in the fight against discrimination and violations of human rights, and said that research by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU in 2013 found that 47 % of LGBT suffered discrimination or harassment, and 26% suffered attacks or threats in the past 5 years in the European Union. Attalides welcomed the first Pride Festival in Cyprus, saying this proves that Cyprus is making steps, leaving behind prejudices.

Cypriot Ombudswoman, Eliza Savvidou, also welcomed the first Pride Festival in Cyprus, and referred to the two bills that are pending, relating to the rights of LGBT people. The bills concern the civil partnership and the criminalization of homophobic rhetoric. This, she said, demonstrates that the Cypriot state is moving towards strengthening equality in the society.

Mayor of Nicosia, Constantinos Yiorkatzis, said that we have the responsibility to create an environment where diversity and freedom of expression will be accepted.