August 2023 | Turkish Cypriot security forces clash with UN peacekeepers
Turkish Cypriot police attacked UN peacekeepers seeking to prevent unauthorised attempts by Turkish Cypriot authorities to build a road encroaching on the UN buffer zone, a demilitarised zone established in 1964 after the de facto partition of the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) justified the construction of the road saying it was for “purely humanitarian purposes” and aimed to improve access to Turkish Cypriots living in the buffer zone town of Pyla/Pile, which is home to both a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot population. The attack, which led to the hospitalisation of three UN personnel, has been widely condemned including by the UN and European Commission. While it is regular for UN peacekeepers to respond to incidents around the buffer zone, it is rare for this type of serious incident at the buffer zone to take place.
May 2023 | Parliament approves law criminalising conversion practices
A new law introduced by the Progressive Party of Working People (Akel) amends the penal code to criminalise any conversion practice aiming to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity and to prohibit advertising of conversion practices. The penalty is imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine of up to EUR 5,000, with more severe penalties for conversion practices committed against a minor. LGBTQIA+ rights organisation IGLYO celebrated a “major step towards the protection and safety of LGBTQIA+ youth in Cyprus.” An 11th hour amendment with support from far-right ELAM party, and after lobbying from the Church of Cyprus, ensured that third parties including priests will be allowed to continue running confessions and acting as counsellors to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
February 2023 | Christodoulides wins Presidential elections
Nikos Christodoulides, former Foreign Minister, was elected President after winning 51.9 per cent of the vote in a run-off against Andreas Mavroyiannis in the closest presidential election since 1998. Christodoulides ran as an independent candidate after defecting from the ruling centre-right Democratic Rally (DISY) party in 2022, throwing divisions within the party into sharp relief. It was the first time in DISY’s history that the party did not have a candidate in the presidential race, after DISY leader Averof Neophytou placed third in the first round of voting. DISY subsequently declared itself an opposition party and Neophytou announced he would not run again for the party leadership. The voter turnout was 72 per cent, continuing a trend of declining turnout in presidential elections. Key issues for the new government will include corruption, the rising cost of living, migration policy, and deadlock in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots. Christodoulides has pledged to promote institutional reforms, including through measures to prevent conflicts of interest among state officials and MPs, and to upgrade public administration.
November 2022 | Report assesses compliance with Istanbul Convention
Cyprus has demonstrated “firm resolve” to combat violence against women, according to a report produced by the Council of Europe’s expert group monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, GREVIO. This includes through strengthening its legal framework to criminalise different forms of violence against women and protect women from harassment, including stalking, as well as sexual and gendered online harassment. It also includes strengthening institutions. For example, the country has established investigative units to pursue cases of domestic violence. However, the report notes the absence of a referral centre to support victims of sexual violence, widespread prejudice in law enforcement leading to a lack of trust by victims, and challenges in ensuring gender-sensitive asylum determination procedures.