Cyprus Mail

Civil unions bill must wait after ‘backroom moves’ to water it down

By Elias Hazou

The hot-button issue of civil unions did not make it to the plenum on Thursday, with the parties deciding to revisit the matter in autumn.

The decision to postpone voting on the bill was taken unanimously by party leaders and representatives meeting before the plenary session got underway.

Despite the delay, LGBT Cyprus said it welcomed it, under the circumstances.

In a statement, the organisation spoke of “backroom moves” by MPs intended to change the whole philosophy of the bill.

Essentially some MPs had sought to – and did – insert a clause depriving civil-union couples of spouse status.

The manoeuvre took place during a closed-doors session of the House interior and legal committees held on Tuesday, some 24 hours after the committees had wrapped up discussion of the controversial bill.

Until Monday, at committee level, civil union couples had full spouse status. By Wednesday spouse status had been deleted from the text.

This in turn would have impacted the rights of such couples over inheritance, insurance and pensions, placing civil unions in a different category and creating a truncated law, LGBT said.

Had the latest version been put to the vote, it would also have meant that every single law referring to couples’ rights would subsequently have to be amended one by one, in order to give these couples the same rights as those enjoyed by traditional couples.

That would have taken too much time, and LGBT believes that authorities would not have been able to prepare the amendments anytime before November.

Moreover, had the latest version – without spouse status – been put to the plenum on Thursday, it would have engendered heated debate and probably led to deadlock.

Instead, party leaders opted to postpone voting on the bill altogether. The issue will be revisited in September.

LGBT President Costas Gavrielides told the Mail they have got assurances that the bill will be put to the first plenary of the new season, in the second week of October.

The assurances they have is that bill will revert to including spouse status for civil-union couples.

The bill concerns all couples who choose to enter a civil union, not only same-sex couples.


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