Diplomatic missions have launched the ‘Diplomats for Equality’ Cyprus branch, a global initiative to support LGBTQI+ rights, with Thursday’s ‘IDAHOT+ Forum 2022’ in Limassol their first joint action.
According to the British High Commission, the diplomatic missions of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, US, and the European Commission Representation, formed the local branch of the global ‘Diplomats for Equality’ initiative with the support of the Cyprus government.
The group said they were open to new members at any time.
To mark their official launch, “they stand united in support of Cyprus’ role in hosting this year’s major International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Intersexphobia ‘IDAHOT+ event in Limassol.”
Diplomats for Equality is an LGBTQI+ rights initiative launched by a group of diplomatic missions in Vienna in 2018.
Since then, groups have been established worldwide, providing umbrella organisations through which diplomatic missions can work with host governments, civil society, businesses and other local partners to offer coordinated support to LGBTQI+ issues, communities, and events.
The Network will work through diplomatic missions, International Organisations, including the UN, European Institutions, the OSCE, and the Commonwealth, to promote tolerance and non-discrimination against LGBTQI+ people and to address discriminatory laws, including those that criminalise homosexuality.
EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, is in Limassol for the European IDAHOT+ Forum, co-hosted by Cyprus and the UK.
This year’s forum focuses on the unprecedented and unjustified act of aggression from Russia on the European continent.
Commissioner Dalli said: “The invasion of Ukraine brought heightened risks of violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ people both within Ukraine and in the countries where they are received as refugees.
“I will make clear that the EU must go above and beyond in ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and with respect, regardless of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation.”
The Commissioner is meeting ministers and MPs to discuss how Cyprus can contribute to EU action on LGBTIQ equality, especially through adopting a national strategy stemming from the EU LGBTIQ Equality Strategy.
They will discuss equality in education, legal gender recognition for trans and non-binary persons, and access to medical and pharmaceutical care for trans, non-binary and intersex people.
Dalli said: “Nearly half of young Cypriot students aged 15 to 17 hide or disguise being LGBTI at school.
“This is of concern. Everybody in the EU should feel safe and free to be who they are at all times.
“In my view, the current top priority for Cyprus is the adoption of its draft national Action Plan and make sure to deliver change on the ground.”
The IDAHOT+ Forum is a major European level annual event organised by the European Network of LGBTI Governmental Focal Points (EFPN), coordinated by the Council of Europe, to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Interphobia on 17 May.