A representative of the Church on Thursday slammed civil partnerships as a concept alien to Cypriot mores, as discussion of the related legislation kicked off in parliament.
Invited to the debate were a host of NGOs and associations as well as officials. Discussion of the government bill continues next week.
Giving the Church’s input, Bishop of Karpasia Christoforos contended that passage of the legislation is not a demand by local society, but an attempt from abroad to push this issue here.
“It is something alien to our customs,” he said of civil partnerships, which he went on to call a “reckless novelty” that purports to equate any form of cohabitation with marriage.
The Church’s opposition to civil partnerships and same-sex unions is well known. The Holy Synod has called homosexuality “an affliction and a moral downfall.”
But during the discussion at a joint session of the House interior and legal affairs committees, dissenters appeared to be in the minority.
Agreeing with the Church was SAKOP, the Association Confronting Social Problems, whose representatives warned that civil partnerships will lead to a rise in divorce rates, among other negative consequences.
The legislation, approved by the cabinet only last month, regulates the conditions under which two people are allowed to form a civil partnership, regulates matter of property and alimony, and the conditions under which the partnership can be dissolved.
Adoptions are not covered in the bill, as this matter is regulated by separate laws, MP Sotiris Sampson clarified.
Acting permanent secretary of the interior ministry Constantinos Nicolaides said the bill concerns exclusively the relations between the state and its citizens.
It concerns, he said, an agreement entered into by two individuals, as well as the terms of cohabitation and its legal effects, which correspond to those stipulated in the marriage law.
Giorgos Markopouliotis, head of the European Commission Representation in
Cyprus, notes that there exists no EU directive or recommendation on the subject. Its regulation is left to individual EU member-states, although to date 18 of the states have passed relevant legislation.
Representatives of Accept-LBGT Cyprus, an NGO, said the new law would give LGBT people the right to family life and address problems they face in their day-to-day lives.
The second Gay Pride parade on the island took place in Nicosia earlier this month.
Also in favour of civil partnerships were associations of psychologists and sociologists.
The Cyprus Atheists said of the legislation that it does not relate to same-sex couples alone, but also anyone who does not want to get married in the traditional way.
For the atheists, the matter is neither religious nor legal, and the state should have no say in what kind of life a person wants to lead.
Anti-Discrimination Body, which operates within the framework of the Ombudsman, said in a note that the European Court of Human Rights case law has de-linked the concept of marriage from the purpose of childbearing.
It said also that the European Convention on Human Rights affords family life protections not just to families formed through a marriage, but likewise to de facto relationships.