Actor and TV presenter Stephen Fry on Wednesday weighed in on the debate surrounding the island’s first ever gay pride parade, calling on the Church of Cyprus to “join the civilised, educated and loving world”.
Speaking exclusively to The Cyprus Daily, Fry – who is also an avid human rights activist – called on every person in Cyprus, regardless of their sexuality, to join the march in Nicosia on May 31.
His message came a day after popular American actress Whoopi Goldberg took to YouTube to offer her backing for the planned parade in the face of strident opposition from the church and other groups.
“I invite the Church of Cyprus to join the civilised and educated and loving world, including Christian faiths such as the Quakers, the Unitarians and many in the Anglican communion and other sects to recognise the natural, unthreatening nature of homosexuality,” commented the 56-year-old English celebrity who has gained huge popularity for his roles in shows such as Blackadder, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Jeeves and Wooster and A Bit of Fry & Laurie – in which he forged a successful partnership with Hugh Laurie.
His film credits include V for Vendetta, The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
Earlier this week, the Cyprus Christian Orthodox Movement said they would organise a counter-demonstration on the same day and at the same location as the gay pride.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus has slammed the planned march saying that the word of God "condemns homosexuality" and considers it "a degradation and a sickness".
The comments did little to impress Fry who in previous interviews has expressed opposition to organised religion, and has identified himself as an atheist and humanist.
“It is a creation of nature, it does not attack families, their values or constitute a threat in any way to children,” he continued. “To suggest otherwise is knowingly to lie. I support and encourage all Cypriots of whatever sexuality to join in the Pride March to show their support for an open, free, tolerant and enlightened Cyprus.
“The world will be filled with admiration and respect. Otherwise they will simply laugh and conjoin you with other fundamentalist theocratic states situated somewhere in the cruel and barbaric Middle Ages. But the laugh will be tinged with sympathy and sorrow for those Cypriots denied their human rights.”
He ended his message with the words “Ζήτω η ελευθερία!”.
Human rights organisation Aequitas also hit out against the Church of Cyprus for comments it said “violated the premise of non-discrimination and human rights”.
The gay pride is being held under the auspices of the Municipality of Nicosia and has the support of foreign diplomatic mission including the US which will be flying the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) flag at its embassy in Nicosia.