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Gay Cyprus: what is it like attending the Cyprus Pride parade in Nicosia?

Stefan Arestis
Gay Cyprus: what is it like attending the Cyprus Pride parade in Nicosia?

“You say poushti like it's a bad thing”

Cyprus Pride in Nicosia parade
One of the most poignant signs at Cyprus Pride

…so said one of the many banners at the Cyprus Gay Pride parade in Nicosia.

In everyday Greek, “pousti” (or “poushti” when you say it with a Cypriot-Greek accent) means “poof” or “fag”, and is usually used in a derogative way. For Stefan growing up in a Greek-Cypriot society across London and Cyprus, relatives would use it in a sort of “act like a man” type of way, like “don't be a pousti!”

Let's just say that Greek society growing up wasn't one of the most gay friendly in the world! Fast forward to today and oh my god look how far the country has evolved! Cyprus now not only has an array of LGBTQ-friendly laws in place, but it also has a gay pride parade taking place every year since 2014, which is supported by the government, with thousands of people.

We love attending the Cyprus Pride in Nicosia!

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LGBTQ rights in Cyprus

Cyprus traditionally has been a very socially conservative society, dominated by the Greek Orthodox Church, which commonly expresses anti-LGBTQ comments. Despite this, Cyprus continues to evolve with its LGBTQ rights:

  • 1998: homosexuality legalized in the South (it was legalized in the Northern occupied side in 2014)
  • 2002: age of sexual consent equalized to 17 years old
  • 2004: Cyprus joins the EU and introduces anti-discrimination laws, but only in employment
  • 2011: the “Accept-LGBT Cyprus” NGO is established
  • 2013: general anti-discrimination laws introduced (like hate speech)
  • 2014: First Cyprus Pride held in Nicosia
  • 2014: Northern occupied Cyprus legalized homosexuality
  • 2015: Civil union laws introduced for same-sex couples
Gay Cyprus LGBTQ laws evolving

 

Moving forward:

  • Transgender rights: a bill allowing transgender people to change their legal sex is currently being drafted, with the support of not only the President but also the Justice Minister.
  • Society opinion: a survey carried out by Accept-LGBT Cyprus in February 2014  found that 53.3% of Cypriot citizens thought that civil unions should be made legal.
  • Gay marriage: gay marriage laws are still not in place in Cyprus
  • Gay adoption: not possible for gay couples, but possible for single persons.
  • Army ban: the ban on LGBTQ people serving openly in the Cypriot army has been lifted, but being out in the army is still seen as a massive taboo.
Nomadic Boys rainbow flag at Cyprus Pride in Nicosia
Proudly flying the flag in support of our Cypriot LGBTQ family

Cyprus Pride: a history

Let's just put things into perspective here. Cyprus Pride is never going to rival the Pride of Madrid, New York, or Sāo Paulo, which attracts several million people. We're talking about a tiny country with a population of around 1 million people. So having several thousand people turn up yearly to march in the Cyprus Pride is a big deal and should be celebrated!

The first Cyprus Pride in 2014 was organized by the excellent Accept LGBT Cyprus NGO, the only officially registered organization in Cyprus dealing with LGBTQ rights. They only expected a few hundred people to turn up, but had a turnout of almost 5,000, with massive support from former President – George Vasiliou. They also had international pop star Anna Vissi perform and march in the parade (she is huge in Cyprus, nicknamed “the Greek Madonna“).

Since 2014, Cyprus Pride has gone from strength to strength. It continues to take place every year, with support from both the government and Cypriot society.

It is with immense pride that we attend Cyprus Pride every year!

 

Our gay Pride in Cyprus

We came along dolled up in full rainbow paraphernalia – flags, wristbands, sunglasses, and more.

The schedule for each Cyprus Pride follows a similar structure each year. It takes place in the Municipal Gardens of Nicosia, which is a large green space area. It starts at 3 pm with activities for children, then the parade starts around 5:30 pm. Before the parade begins, Cypriot politicians give speeches in support of the LGBTQ community, and local Cypriot celebrities perform. This year we had Eurovision star, Eleni Foureira, who performed her huge hit song, “Fuego”.

The Parade took us around the main streets of central Nicosia, then back to the Municipal Garden where there were more performances along with live music. This was our favourite part. We loved the fun, chilled party atmosphere in the park, with everyone getting on as one big happy LGBTQ family:

 

As we said, don't come to the Cyprus Pride expecting huge parades like the ones you see at the Fierte gay pride of Montreal, or the gay pride of Puerto Vallarta. But do come here knowing you are supporting our small LGBTQ community, which has made huge leaps in Cypriot society and continues to do so.

When is Cyprus Pride 2023?

The main Cyprus Pride 2023 will take place on Saturday 27th May 2023. The Pride Festival will take place on 17-27 May 2023.

There are in fact two that take place:

1. Northern part of Nicosia: takes place on the Turkish-occupied side of Nicosia in May to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHTB).

2. Southern part of Nicosia: takes place in June on the Greek-Cypriot side of Nicosia at the Municipal Garden.

Both events are beautifully organized by “Accept-LGBT Cyprus”, which doesn't discriminate between Turk or Greek and incorporates both in its rainbow logo. For the most up-to-date information, check out the Accept website.

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For more inspiration:

Find out what it's like experiencing gay pride in Cyprus
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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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