By Constantinos Psillides
INTERIOR MINISTER Socratis Hasikos has said that government is not backing down on a civil partnership bill currently being drafted and that it would not be scrapped, despite media reports suggesting it would.
Hasikos blamed the previous administration for any delay, saying that proper procedure wasn’t followed.
The legal frame regarding civil partnership was first approved by the previous cabinet on February 14, just three days before the first round of the presidential elections.
Hasikos said that his predecessor, Eleni Mavrou, had been tasked with drafting legislation in cooperation with the attorney-general’s office and submitting it to the ministries of finance, health, justice and labour for their remarks.
The interior minister explained that when he took office he was informed that the various remarks weren’t included in the draft and that his office has now sent the draft to the ministries for their remarks by December 6.
“After that we will post the draft on our website for four weeks, in accordance with the procedure for public debate,” he added.
The draft will then be formed into proposed legislation and sent to the law office of the republic for legal proceedings and finally to the House of Representatives for review, debate and a vote.
“accept-Cyprus LGBT” head Costas Gavrielides said that they are aware of the procedural complication but hope that everything will be resolved by the end of the year.
“Our goal is to have the issue discussed in the House by April,” he added.
Establishing civil unions is one of the first steps the government is taking to abolish discrimination. On October 8 the justice ministry announced plans to amend the penal code, so as to criminalise public displays of homophobia.
The current law states that it is a criminal offence to publicly promote discriminatory acts of violence or hatred against those of a different colour, race, religion, nationality or ethnic background. However, it does not include offences against homosexuals but the amendment is designed to address this.
Reports suggest the amendment will deem it a criminal offence if a person publicly threatens anyone because of their sexual orientation, either verbally, in writing or by illustration.
The penalty will be imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to €5,000, or both.