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NORTH NICOSIA, Cyprus January 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Until yesterday, Northern Cyprus was the last jurisdiction in Europe to have kept homosexual activity on the criminal law books. In a bill passed Monday by its legislature, the region overturned its British colonial-era law outlawing sexual activity between two men.

Section 171 of the criminal code carried a punishment of up to five years for male homosexual acts. Female homosexuality is not included in the statute. The new law has yet to receive the formal ratification of Northern Cyprus’ leader.

Northern Cyprus is a disputed territory since the withdrawal of British rule in 1960. It is called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus only by Turkey, which annexed the territory and expelled the ethnic Greek population in 1974, triggering decades of conflict. Northern Cyprus declared independence from the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, in 1983.

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Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu told British Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who has campaigned on the issue, that he intends to sign the bill into law, the BBC reported today.

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ILGA Europe, the EU’s leading homosexualist lobby group, issued a brief statement, saying, “We welcome today’s vote and can finally call Europe a continent completely free from laws criminalizing homosexuality.” The group is campaigning heavily around Africa, which retains many such laws.

Yannakoudakis noted the African connection on her website, saying, “As other [British] Commonwealth countries such as Nigeria and Uganda impose increasingly draconian measures to persecute LGBT people, I hope that people will learn from Cyprus that the anti-gay legacy of Britain's colonial past should be scrapped and not strengthened.”

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