By Constantinos Psillides
RULING party DISY is still trying to handle the public outcry sparked by a sexist comment made by Limassol MP Andreas Themistocleous, with parliamentary spokesman Nicos Tornaritis being forced on Wednesday to reiterate the party’s support for the civil partnership legislation.
Despite having previously declared its party support for the bill, Tornaritis was forced to revisit the issue after being pressured by reporters to respond to whether Themistocleou’s comments signalled a departure from DISY’s stance on the matter.
“DISY supports the civil partnerships bill and condemns all statements made by MPs that are insulting to fellow MPs or the public,” said Tornaritis.
Tornaritis was pushed into a corner after Themistocleous attacked AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou on Monday via Facebook.
The two MPs have been taking swings at one another following the passing of a bill last Thursday, criminalising homophobia.
Charalambidou posted an article on Sunday by daily Philelfetheros criticising Themistocleous and the rest of the five MPs that voted against it. Charalambidou captioned the article: “society is moving forward despite the fact that some people want to keep us in the dark ages.” The linked article displayed a photo of Themistocleous and Charalambidou while on a TV panel.
Themistocleous perceived the picture and the caption as a personal attack and posted a lengthy response, ending it by calling the MP “the utmost authority on measuring people’s manhoods”.
Asked whether Themistocleous’ views signalled a shift in policy, Tornaritis said that MPs are allowed to vote any way they want.
“The party had decided that in matters like these, MPs are allowed to vote their conscience and are not required to adhere to party policy,” explained Tornaritis, adding that discussion on the civil partnership bill has just begun.
Parliament president Yiannakis Omirou also issued a statement on Wednesday saying that behaviour like that of the DISY MP, “belittle political morals and expose the parliament”.
Themistocleous responded to the backlash on Tuesday evening, accusing Charalambidou of being the one who instigates fights.
“In every instance – without fail – this deputy was the one who cast the first stone. Therefore, instead of [AKEL leader] Mr Kyprianou asking others to call me to order, he should make sure he controls and keeps his constantly snarling parliamentarian in check.”