By Annette Chrysostomou
Two women will be the first to enter into formal civil partnerships in Cyprus on Friday January 29, it emerged on Wednesday.
They applied after the law allowing same-sex unions came into effect on Monday. The ceremony will take place in Nicosia. Another two ceremonies are booked for February.
The civil union law which makes this possible ensures that same-sex couples have the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples.
“The only major difference is the prohibition of joint adoption, however this is something that will soon change,” said Costas Gavrielides from the LGBT group ‘Accept’.
According to Gavrielides, there has been more interest in the formal civil partnerships than expected. “There may be around 20 couples, they are asking us, and also the district office”, he added. “There were also some heterosexual couples and we have had requests from abroad, from the UK and Canada and also two Cypriot couples who live in the UK.”
The group is happy about the interest, considering that homosexuals have long hidden from public view. “Of course, notions don’t change suddenly, we have way to go before full acceptance,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
“This was a big step, and we have to resolve the day-to-day things now. For this we want to meet with the ministry,” the activist went on to say. One of the things he is not happy about is the procedure, which he thinks should be more fitting for the occasion. Currently the signing of the papers takes place at the district office and the ceremony is performed by the district officer.
In Nicosia it has been decided that the partnership papers will be signed on Fridays. In other cities, people have also shown interest, but as yet no dates have been set.
The procedure is much the same as for civil weddings. The couple first needs make a sworn declaration at the court that they are not married. The fee for these affidavits is €16 for both. Then the couple has to get an official certificate of freedom from the civil registry and migration department which is issued for a fee of €68.
Finally the pair should go to the administration of the town where one of the two resides and arrange for the signing of the documents, which will cost another €90. During the ceremony, the couple will be accompanied by two other persons who will sign as witnesses.