Gay British MEP Michael Cashman has met with leaders in Northern Cyprus to show his support for plans to decriminalize homosexuality.
Cashman met with senior politicians, including Prime Minister Irsen Küçük, President Dervi? Ero?lu and Speaker of the Parliament Hasan Bozer, to talk about repealing the homophobic British Colonial Laws, where Articles 171 and 173 punishes 'unnatural sex' with five years jail and gives three years imprisonment for attempts to commit such acts.
Northern Cyprus is the last territory in Europe where being gay is still a crime and a legal challenge was launched in February at the European Court of Human Rights.
Cashman's visit to the country follows several arrests of suspected gay men and leaders at the talk all agreed that urgent changes were needed, including decriminalizing same-sex activity, equalizing the age of consent for same-sex intercourse and defining rape more clearly.
Michael Cashman, Co-president of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, concluded: 'All my interlocutors agreed local laws need updating urgently.
'Now the Parliament must do its work and align the Criminal Code with binding European standards.'
A live TV show on homosexuality was also broadcast on local TV channel Kanal Sim.
Reshat Shaban from Queer Cyprus Association said: 'Thanks to Michael’s visit to Northern Cyprus, our demands for equal rights were heard by political leaders.
'Undoubtedly, most pressing for us is to fully decriminalize homosexuality, equalize the age of consent and better protect LGBTQ people under the law.'