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Cyprus

Parliament to debate civil partnerships on June 18

By Constantinos Psillides

Discussion of a civil partnership bill will start on June 18, chairman of the House Interior Committee Yiannos Lamaris said on Thursday.

The bill will be discussed during joint sessions of the Interior and Legal Affairs Committees.

The committees met today behind closed doors to decide on procedural matters and draft a list of stakeholders to invite for their input. Among them is the Church of Cyprus.

The long list of guests also includes officials from the justice and interior ministries, the Legal Service, the Civil Registry, LGBTI rights group Accept, the authority against discrimination, the Bar Association, the Womens’ Lobby, the association dealing with social problems (SAKOP), psychologists, sociologists, teachers, the Children Rights Commissioner, parents associations and youth associations.

Asked about the long list, Lamaris, an AKEL MP, said it was an issue that elicits both negative and positive feelings from a large number of people.

He said parliament did not want to be seen as blocking free democratic dialogue on the matter “which has divided more advanced societies than ours.”

“Therefore it would be a mistake on our part to appear that we restrict discussion on the matter,” he said.

Lamaris said that the Committees will do their best to wrap up discussion on the bill and put it to the vote before the summer break in July.

Ruling DISY is the party with most vocal opponents of the civil partnership bill, including Limassol MP Andreas Themistocleous.

Themistocleous has placed himself at the forefront of the anti-LGBTI rights movement, opposing a bill to criminalise homophobia while taking a stance against civil partnership and child adoption by homosexual couples.

The legal framework regarding civil partnerships was first approved by the previous administration on February 14, 2013 just three days before the first round of the presidential elections.

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos scrapped the legislation in 2014, claiming that his predecessor Eleni Mavrou had skipped part of the legislation process.

In December 2013 it was promised that the bill would be ready by April 2014. Delays in passing the legislation led to an Accept delegation meeting with the president last year. He publicly pledged that he would not back down.

The bill was approved by the cabinet on May 6.

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