Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for Cyprus` second gay pride parade, organised by Accept – LGBT Cyprus, a non governmental organisation fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-sexual and inter-sexual people, under the slogan “Free to Be!”.

“The government wants to communicate the idea that the citizens should enjoy equality, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity” said Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos, who attended the festival with representatives from parliamentary parties, the European Parliament and the European Commission, and other officials.

In May the Cabinet approved a draft bill governing civil partnership agreements between heterosexual, as well as same-sex couples.

The festival, Hasikos noted, highlights respect towards diversity, with particular focuses on people who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity and promotes the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex identity.

“At a time when homophobia, transphobia and discriminations against LGBTI persons persist, we have a collective responsibility to undertake initiatives and actions to stop these phenomena. On the European and on the national level” said Christos Stylianides European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management in his message on the occasion of the Cyprus Gay Pride 2015.

“Despite the progress made, a lot more must be done in order to safeguard LGBTI rights. In Cyprus and in Europe in general,” he noted.

He also congratulated the Cyprus government for its initiative to submit a civil partnership bill to the Parliament.

The Cyprus Pride Festival was supported by the Municipality of Nicosia for the second consecutive year, under the auspices of the Mayor of Nicosia Constantinos Yiorkatzis.

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