By Stefanos Evripidou
AS THE world marked Human Rights Day yesterday, civil rights group ACCEPT-LGBT lamented the “sad and paradoxical” fact that discussions were still ongoing in Cyprus as to whether two gay people are entitled to any rights under the proposed Civil Partnership Act.
ACCEPT President Costas Gavrielides yesterday highlighted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by Cyprus affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
“The rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people are not special or different in any way. They are basic human rights which are universal and non-negotiable,” he said.
For the last four years, ACCEPT-LGBT Cyprus has worked as an organisation to secure fundamental human freedoms of the LGBT people in Cyprus, in a society that remains deeply homophobic, argued Gavrielides.
“Unfortunately, most state officials still regard the matter as secondary, or as inappropriate, always in accordance with their own personal views and beliefs.
“In the year 2013, any discussion on whether two gay people are entitled to any rights under the proposed Civil Partnership Act, in order to co-exist, create and evolve within the social context with their life’s partner is sad and paradoxical to say the least and reminiscent of outdated times when women were trying to convince society that they too were entitled to rights. It’s that simple,” he added.
Gavrielides said passing the Civil Partnership Act, currently under discussion by lawmakers, was of primary importance to Accept as fundamental human rights were at stake.
“Denying state recognition of same-sex civil partnerships hinders the exercise of a whole range of other fundamental rights such as the right to housing and social insurance and stigmatises same-sex relationships, leading to further discrimination and violation of the rights of LGBTI people,” he said.
The ACCEPT head likened entitling LGBTI people to the legal right of cohabitation would affect others to the same extent “that their neighbours’ choice of bathroom tiles would”.
“We are surprised, therefore, that the state keeps coming up with ‘obstacles’ and excuses with regards to the protection of its citizens’ basic human rights,” particularly since Cyprus consistently cites human rights breaches by Turkey in international fora.
“Unfortunately, in the European Cyprus of 2013 there are human rights which remain unclaimed and not because of a ‘bad’ third party, but sadly because of our own country’s inactions,” he added.