ILGA EUROPE''s reaction letter to the Paola Revenioti exhibition events
Ministry of Justice and Public Order
125. Athalassas Avenue
Nicosia – CYPRUS
Brussels, 1 December 2014,
Concerns: Support letter to Accept-LGBT Cyprus regarding the shutdown of its photo exhibition related to the Transgender Day of Remembrance
Through this letter ILGA-Europe, the European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Association, wishes to express its full support to its member organisation Accept-LGBT Cyprus for the organisation of the Photo Exhibition “Corrections”. This event was forcefully interrupted by the Cyprus Police on 21 November 2014 and the Police confiscated parts of the exhibition.
It is important to note that this event was organised by Accept-LGBT Cyprus in the framework of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Each year, Transgender Day of Remembrance is held internationally on 20 November to memorialise and honour trans people who have been victims of homicide, and to raise public awareness of hate crimes against trans people.
The photo exhibition in question contains photographs by the Greek Trans Activist Paola Revenioti and has been held in Athens and in London without any obstacles. Accept-LGBT Cyprus denounces that the exhibition was seized following a single complaint received by the police. The President of the organisation, Costas Gavrielides, was questioned and officially charged with “Publication of Lewd Content" in the public space. It is striking that the police did not previously inform either the municipality of Nicosia that had licensed the space of the market for the Exhibition, or the organisation itself. The Police eventually allowed the return of some of the photos, and withheld others that depict male nudity, as evidence for a possible trial. The statement by the Ombudsman in reaction to the intervention is particularly striking, stating that the intervention was an unnecessary act, disproportionate and repressive and regretting that there was not any dialogue preceding the intervention.
The impression that this intervention was specifically targeted at Accept-LGBT Cyprus – the only LGBTI organisation in Cyprus – is difficult to dispose of, and the question whether there would have been a similar intervention if the same exhibition were organised by a different kind of organisation remains unanswered. ILGA-Europe fully supports Accept-LGBT and denounces the action of the Cyprus Police. The right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression are not to be taken lightly. Moreover, the censure of a public exhibition invoking the notion of “lewd content” should at least be preceded by a judicial injunction based on clear legislation and open to appeal. No space should be left for arbitrary or biased decisions by individual public officials or police officers.
In a more general fashion, ILGA-Europe supports the entire LGBT community in Cyprus in their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. ILGA-Europe’s work in relation to the freedom of assembly and expression is based on international human rights law. The right to peacefully assemble and the right to freedom of expression are at the core of a functioning democratic system and are enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, the importance of defending this principle was strongly underlined in the Recommendation from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
ILGA-Europe will monitor the actions of the Cypriot authorities following this seizure and will consider other actions.
CC: Constantinos YIORKADJIS, Mayor of Nicosia
CC: Eliza SAVVIDOU, Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Cyprus
CC: Costas GAVRIELIDES, President of Accept–LGBT Cyprus