Averof Neophytou's 20 Proposals for the LGBTQI+ Community

03/02/2023 16:26:00 Comments From Costa Gavrielides

We are glad to see political leaders taking the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community seriously and that is why the publication of the updated responses to the Accept-LGBTI Cyprus questionnaire last Monday 30 January 2023 was met with a mixture of relief and surprise at the responses, or lack thereof, of the candidates.

When the questionnaire first appeared a day ago, many were curious why the President of DISY had not yet replied. Personally, I received my share of criticism and frustration from people who questioned the motives behind the delay. DISY's official stance was that it does not respond to questionnaires and that, besides, all questions were answered verbally at an Accept meeting with the President in November. Given that the government, with the support of DISY, have made significant progress on LGBTI rights in recent years, both quietly within ministries and government departments, and publicly through several actions, I felt that a questionnaire response would be an excellent opportunity to show this progress in the party's thoughts. Last June, after all, LGBTQ+ issues were heard and addressed at the party's ideological conference.

To everyone's surprise, the party president went against protocol and answered the questionnaire in person on Monday during a meeting with Accept, which delighted many.

The questionnaire, which contains 10 questions about the positions of each candidate on LGBTQI+ rights in Cyprus, was completed by Averof Neofytou himself and in it he agreed with all the positions of the organisation. He also promised to send concrete commitments on what he would do for Cyprus' LGBTQI+ community when elected president.

As an advisor to the President of the Republic on Multiculturalism and Diversity and as coordinator of the LGBT+ & Allies policy production team of DISY, I was quite pleased to see these commitments made public. This is the first time we have seen such a clear and strong commitment from the centre-right in Cyprus, and it is exciting to see a leader like Averof Neophytou not afraid to express his ideas and commit to implementing concrete proposals for the five-year period. It saddens me at the same time that we did not see the same commitment from all the other candidates. After all, LGBTQ+ rights are not just about one political ideology - they are for everyone!

"As a liberal man, I am fully committed to creating a better future for all people, including the LGBTQI+ community. In my vision for a better Cyprus, the rights of all its citizens will be respected, while all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics." - Averoff Neophytou

Averoff Neofytou understands the importance of promoting LGBTQI+ rights not only as a political issue, but as a reflection of the values of justice, equality and respect that are the foundation of a just society. 

He notes in his letter that he has demonstrated his commitment to these values through his previous actions and initiatives, such as the passing of the Civil Union Law in 2015, the criminalisation of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, and the passing of a law allowing judges to use both homophobia and transphobia as aggravating factors when serving sentences when necessary.

He also notes that both DISY and he supports the Bill on Legal Gender Identity Recognition submitted by the government to Parliament and, in addition, are opposed to conversion therapies, “a harmful and discredited practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.” 

In addition, Averof supported the LGBTQI+ community by participating in the Cyprus Pride March in 2015 and the ILGA-Europe conference held in Nicosia in 2016, 'while the Democratic Rally constantly participates every year in the Cyprus Pride March'. He also added that "Recognising the need to cooperate with European actors, our policy group 'LGBTIQ & Allies' has joined the European European Centre-Right LGBT+ Alliance, a pan-European political network of the Center-Right that cooperates with the European People's Party (EPP) on LGBTQI+ issues."

In his letter to Accept, Averof Neofytou sets out 20 concrete proposals for the LGBTQI community in Cyprus that he promises to implement if elected president. These proposals, which as a friend said already serve as an Action Plan for the LGBTQI community, show the dedication of Averof Neofytou to creating a brighter future for all Cypriots, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or gender characteristics. He himself had the courage to propose them and he can implement them.
Accept - LGBTI Cyprus meeting with Averof Neophytou to deliver questionnaire and positions.

Averof Neophytou's 20 Proposals for the LGBTQI+ Community

  1. Adopt legislation to legalise same-sex marriage within the first year of the presidential term. 
  2. Develop a national action plan to address LGBTQI+ issues, such as bullying and hate crimes, within the first year of the presidential term. 
  3. Establish a national register of hate crimes and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people, with the aim of at least 70% of reported incidents being recorded within the first two years of the system's implementation. 
  4. Provide sensitivity and awareness training on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics to employees of the state security forces and other civil servants with the implementation of new specific policies, within the first two years of the new government. 
  5. Propose to change the existing legislation on discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in the workplace in a way that covers, in addition to sexual orientation, discrimination based on gender identity and sex characteristics. 
  6. Introduce measures to improve the safety and security of LGBTIQ people, such as increasing patrols in areas known to have high incidents of hate crime and harassment. 
  7. Increase support and protection for LGBTQ+ people in the national guard, with specific policies and support services, within the first two years of government. 
  8. Review and update the General Health System (GESI) guidelines and procedures related to trans healthcare to ensure that they are in line with current medical standards and international best practices, with the aim of at least 20% of healthcare providers receiving training on trans healthcare within the first three years of the presidential term. 
  9. Raising awareness and education about PrEP as a means of HIV prevention among the general population, to reduce new HIV cases within the first two years of implementing these measures. 
  10. Adoption of measures that will allow all couples, regardless of the gender of the parents, but also single persons, regardless of their gender, to apply for surrogacy and medically assisted childbearing, in accordance with the current legislation. 
  11. Issue of information on proper LGBTQI+ health care access, providing guidelines and resources to health care providers. 
  12. Increase funding for LGBTQI+ organisations and support services for the LGBTQI+ community, such as counselling and health services, by at least 20% within the first year of the presidential term. 
  13. Increase support to LGBTQI+ people with disabilities by providing access to specialised healthcare, support services and assistive technology. 
  14. Develop policies and programmes to address the specific issues LGBTQI+ people face, such as bullying and discrimination in schools, with the aim of at least a 30% reduction in reported incidents of bullying and discrimination within the first three years of implementation of these policies. 
  15. Promote LGBTQI+ rights and visibility through public campaigns and events, such as the annual Cyprus Pride March. 
  16. Encouraging businesses to adopt policies that include the LGBTQI+ community, such as workforce training on diversity and inclusion, and also by promoting benefits that cover equally employees with same-sex partners. 
  17. Ratify international agreements protecting LGBTQI+ rights in cooperation with international partners at the UN, European Union, Council of Europe and elsewhere.
  18. Increase support for LGBTQI+ people internationally, where there are Diplomatic Missions of the Republic of Cyprus abroad, in cooperation with local civil society and other international diplomatic missions. 
  19. Encourage media to promote and represent LGBTQI+ stories and voices by providing guidelines and resources to media to ensure that their coverage is inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQI+ people, and by promoting media that adopt such policies. 
  20. Increase funding for LGBTQI+-inclusive sports programmes within the first two years of implementation of this policy.

"I firmly believe that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights is not just about the rights of a minority, but about the values of justice, equality and respect that are the foundation of a just society." - Averof Neophytou

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