Cyprus’ Minister of Justice and Public Order Stephie Dracos stressed the need for a change in culture regarding the rights of LGBTI+ people, after signing on Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding on the Protection and Promotion of the rights of LGBTI+ People in Europe and in the Commonwealth between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus.
The MoU was signed by the Minister of Justice and Public Order of the Republic of Cyprus and the Minister of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom, Amanda Milling at a virtual ceremony, held in Nicosia and in London. The Memorandum of Understanding concerns the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI+ people in Europe and in the Commonwealth.
The Adviser to the President of the Republic of Cyprus relating to Multiculturalism, Acceptance and Respect to Diversity, Costa Gavrielides, as well as the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom in the Republic of Cyprus, Stephen Lillie, attended the ceremony held at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia while the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in the United Kingdom, Andreas S. Kakouris, joined Milling in London.
According to a joint statement by the two sides, the Memorandum of Understanding outlines steps taken by the two countries to promote and build an inclusive society where LGBTI+ people have the same opportunities and enjoy equal rights, without any form of discrimination. It further sets specific outputs for closer cooperation of the two countries within the European Governmental LGBTI+ Focal Points Network and the Equal Rights Coalition, closer cooperation to promote LGBTI+ rights in the Commonwealth, as well as actions to promote the benefits of diversity and LGBTI+ equality in the workplace.
The Governments of the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom are currently co-chairs of the Council of Europe’s European Governmental LGBTI+ Focal Points Network. In May 2021 they jointly chaired the IDAHOT+ Forum from London, while on May 12 they will both be hosting the IDAHOT+ Forum in Nicosia.
“The signing of the Memorandum demonstrates tangibly the importance the two Governments attach to the issue of the protection of the LGBTI+ rights and their commitment to further bolstering and advancing this agenda” it is noted.
In her statement minister Dracos expressed strong support for all policies and actions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Though we have made much progress on the field of LGBTI+ rights, we acknowledge that there is more work to be done. What we need is not necessarily more laws, but a change in culture which can be achieved through efforts and actions for raising awareness in order to build a more diverse, inclusive and respectful society. I am certain that the signing of the Memorandum is a step in the right direction”, she said.
On her part, Amanda Milling said she was delighted to sign, on behalf of the UK, an important Memorandum of Understanding which cements and formalizes the increasingly active and productive partnership between the UK and Cyprus on LGBT+ rights.
“We are proud to work with our long-standing friend and partner, bilaterally as well as through organizations like the Commonwealth, to promote our shared values and learn from one another. We look forward to co-hosting the IDAHOT+ Forum taking place in Nicosia in May, and to welcoming Cyprus’ participation in the Safe to Be Me Conference in London in June,” she said.
High Commissioner Lillie said that the importance of the memorandum of understanding was to formalize a partnership between the UK and Cyprus on LGBT+ rights. In the UK, he said, “we have a proud record in advancing the rights of and equality for LGBT+ people, and today we are making that a part of our already strong and wide relationship with the Republic of Cyprus, our longstanding friend and partner”. At the same time, he said the two sides are also strengthening their collaboration through the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth, using a quality network, providing essential space to share ideas and to promote diversity and equality.
Costas Gavrielides said that the MoU concerns the rights of the LGBTI + community at the labor level, expressing the hope that Cyprus will receive enough know-how from the United Kingdom in these matters, especially in the recognition of LGBTI + rights by companies. By the end of the year, he added, there will be actions in this direction.