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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Lord Nick Herbert in “P”: Accepting diversity

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Interview with Christothea Iakovou

He has been named the first LGBT + envoy for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The position was created after the dissolution of the advisory committee on issues that support the LGBT + community. Cyprus was his first trip since his appointment, while the United Kingdom and Cyprus share a seat on LGBT + issues at the Council of Europe (EFPN). In addition, the cooperation between the two countries and the holding of the #SAFETOBEME conference on community issues were discussed in particular. In the meetings he had, the new bill promoted for the recognition of gender identity and LGBT + issues in the workplace were also discussed. In his interview, Lord Nick Herbert explains the importance of accepting the LGBT + social group.

First of all, as a special envoy for LGBT + issues, which term do you think is the most appropriate to use?

There is no absolutely right way. There are many ways and terms that one could use. Personally, I use LGBT + (English: LGBT +) because it is easier to use, while the + symbol, I think it includes any other kind of sexuality.

How do you feel about being the first LGBT + Special Envoy to the UK Government?

I am very proud to have been selected as the UK Prime Minister's first Special Envoy for LGBT + Rights. I believe that this is the first time that a position has been created and a person has been appointed for this position is a testament to the importance shown by the Prime Minister, but also by the United Kingdom, to the community and their rights. In the UK Several steps have been taken for LGBT + people, but much more needs to be done to consolidate their rights in society, as well as on the basis of institutions. I am also very happy to finally have meetings for life.

What is your role?

First of all, my role is to promote the importance of the community and the rights of LGBT + people. In addition, part of my job is to support the country's foreign policy on the community, as well as to support the domestic agenda. There will also be a major LGBT + rights conference in London next June. The conference is of major importance and will concern the whole world, while it has the motto #SAFETOBEME (it is safe to be myself).

Are there specific points that you focus on in your mission?

Yes. In recent years we have noticed that many countries have made a pretty good effort, including the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

However, there are many countries that have not made any changes or there is no positive development for community rights, and may be taking steps backwards. Personally, I want to focus on countries that do not recognize LGBT + and this is what we will do with the conference that will be held in the coming months. There are 69 countries around the world that do not recognize different sexualities, and in some of them, anyone who expresses their diversity is sentenced to death. In some countries we find that violence is supported by governments, while in others they turn a blind eye to LGBT + cases. So people are not safe and the question is to decriminalize their sexuality. We have also noticed that there is a kind of inequality in public services. Many LGBT + people face discrimination, especially in the field of health. So the goal is to find solutions or at least improve practices for these people and therefore the UK. has six allied countries promoting these issues. Cyprus is one of them.

You mentioned cases of violence. How can the phenomenon be addressed?

We have seen several incidents unfortunately due to sexual preferences. I see that hate crime also has a wider impact on society. That is, it inspires fear, terror and worries me, as it must be addressed immediately. Therefore, it is a very difficult issue, we often notice that people do not have the courage to denounce them. This is one of the issues we are trying to improve in the UK. Of course, I believe that the issue of complaints is a multifaceted problem in many countries (eg Cyprus, UK), as evidenced by the issues of violence faced by women. The most important and what we can easily do, is to recognize the phenomena and to promote the acceptance and integration of LGBT + in the society. I also believe that the law should support the weak and protect them. In the conference, which will be held next year, we have included a thematic unit on violence against LGBT + people.

How did your visit to Cyprus come about and what is the purpose?

I have been invited by the president's advisor for LGBT rights, Costas Gavriilidis, to discuss LGBT + issues and the cooperation of the UK. and Cyprus at EFPN. This year is the first time I visit Cyprus as a special envoy for LGBT + rights and this proves the potential of our cooperation and relations with Cyprus. Cyprus together with the UK share the seat of the European Governmental LOATI Focal Points Network (EFPN). In essence, it is a network that has agreed to promote LGBT +. Thus, the UK and Cyprus we had a lot to discuss about how to work together and shape the agenda. During my visit, we discussed specific issues in the labor sector regarding the LGBT + community. I had meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner of Legislation and the representatives of the CCCI and there will be more meetings, while we believe that Cyprus could play an important role in the #SAFETOBEME conference. In general, Cyprus has a very important position as a member of the European Union, but also as a member of the Commonwealth, as well as in the promotion of equality. In addition, we believe that contact with many countries could have the impact we want on the issues.

A new bill for the recognition of gender identity is being promoted in Cyprus. Have you discussed the issue?

Yes, we have shared information. I believe that we have experience that we can transfer to Cyprus, since the relevant law was passed many years ago in the UK. Also, the exchange of information and experiences is one of our desires, because I believe it is an important factor for us all to improve. The bill being promoted is a good example of progress for the lives of trans people.

You were against Brexit. What is it like to be part of UK foreign policy? with the position of the European Union?

Yes, it is true, I was against Brexit, but I support the decision made by society. However, in issues such as those of LGBT + there is no change, while our position in the European Council is that there should be cooperation between the two sides. The UK wants to maintain its good relations with the EU and at the same time aims to seize the opportunities that exist outside the EU. We have an ambitious domestic and global agenda for equality towards the LGBT + community, as we maintain contacts with other countries abroad from the EU.

It is true that in the UK. Are there different types of “treatments” for LGBT + people?

There is a perception among many that LGBT + people can change their sexual orientation with various “treatments”. However, very soon, we will publish a proposal to abolish and ban the treatments that treat different sexualities as wrong. Obviously, a person's sexual orientation is not a disease and those who engage in such practices will receive large fines.

Source: politis.com.cy

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