NICOSIA, June 18 (Reuters) - Separated by politics but united in pride, members of LGBTQ+ communities came together in celebration late on Saturday in the no-man's-land that splits Cyprus in two.
Setting off from opposing sides of Nicosia, Cyprus's divided capital city, activists converged in a United Nations controlled buffer zone, turning it into a sea of rainbow flags where people cheered, embraced and kissed.
Cyprus was split by ethnic violence which culminated in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup. The Turkish Cypriot community live in its north, and Greek Cypriots in the south.
Saturday's Pride event is just the second to bring together members of LGBTQ+ communities from both sides of the divide.
Chanting "peace" and "united by pride across the green line" - a reference to the dividing line - there were cheers when activists draped a building with the colours of the rainbow.
"We are organising Pride since 2014 but they were mostly divided, on different sides," said activist Erman Dolmaci from Queer Cyprus, one of the organisers of the event.
"We are sending a message that we want a united island," Dolmaci said.
Activists said that despite the physical boundary, the island's LGBTQ+ communities were becoming more integrated and reflective of a multi-cultural Cyprus which includes ethnicities other than just Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Organisers of Saturday's event included the African LGBTIQ+ community and LGBT Pilipinas.
"We want to show that we are part of the peace process, that we want to be part of the peace process, and we are here to show that we exist," said Alexandros Efstathiou, a member of Queer Collective CY.
"If nobody else is going to solve this, we are going to solve it," Efstathiou said.
Peace talks have been deadlocked on the island since 2017.