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Civil partnership bill needs consensus, Hasikos tells MPs

Civil partnership bill needs consensus, Hasikos tells MPs

By Constantinos Psillides

A CIVIL partnership bill needs consensus from all parties or else it cannot move forth, Interior minister Socratis Hasikos party representatives yesterday.

The minister handed a draft of the bill to the MPs asking them to study it carefully and respond in time for a follow-up meeting in September.

Hasikos said he will not introduce the bill to the House if he doesn’t have the support from all parliamentary parties in advance.

The two main parties – ruling DISY and opposition AKEL – have already publicly supported civil partnerships. AKEL had submitted an amendment to the House which was abandoned in 2013 in favour of a government-backed bill, while DISY leader Averof Neophytou issued a statement in June in favour of civil partnerships, going as far as to promise that if the government didn’t come with a bill soon they would introduce their own amendment.

Asked whether civil partnership was a directive from the EU, Hasikos said it was not, adding that many EU countries have incorporated civil partnership into their legislation.

Asked to comment on the Church of Cyprus’s stance on civil partnership, the minister said “the church’s opinion is well-documented and well-known and that they are entitled to that opinion.”

The Greek Orthodox church opposes civil partnerships, going as far as to describe homosexuals who were planning to take part in the first Gay pride parade in May as “unbalanced” and the gay lifestyle as “a moral downfall.”

The legal framework regarding civil partnerships was first approved by the previous cabinet on February 14 last year, three days before the first round of the presidential elections.

Interior minister Hasikos recalled the bill, claiming that the previous administration did not follow proper procedure.

He explained that when he took office he was informed that the previous cabinet’s comments were not included in the draft and that he should send it back with a December 6 deadline.

Last December, the minister had promised that the bill would be ready by April of this year.

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