By Evie Andreou
Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou has expressed some concerns over the civil partnership bill in a letter to the interior ministry.
Savvidou said civil partnership legislation should ensure equal treatment for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, and she was concerned that some aspects of the bill were designed by its authors when it came to third-country nationals, ostensibly in an attempt to prevent them using a civil partnership to obtain residency.
One article in the bill provides that a valid residence permit is required for civil partnership applications and also for the dissolution of such partnerships.
This, she said, would exclude a wide category of foreign nationals that legally reside and work in the country and it was a point that needs further analysis and clarification.
The existence of strict prerequisites concerning the residence permit would prevent a large number of people who wished to combine holidays in Cyprus with the signing of a civil partnership.
She also disagreed with a provision forbidding more than three civil partnerships per person since “it contradicts the flexibility that should govern the conclusion of the civil partnership and the freedom of people to give legal effect to partnerships without moralistic restrictions”.
Any mention of children and parental relations are also missing from the bill, Savvidou said.
“I want to believe that this absence is random and does not suggest that family ties developed within a [civil] partnership are less important,” her letter said.
The Ombudswoman also said that although reactions concerning civil partnerships were understandable, they should not be allowed to derail the process. She was referring to the backlash against legalising homosexual partnerships.
“The excuse that Cyprus is a conservative and closed society and is not ready to proceed with this specific measure must not prevail,” the letter said.
Savvidou said the adoption of the legislation would have an educating role in changing social perceptions and in lifting stigmas and discrimination.