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Religious affiliation to be removed from marriage certificates

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The interior ministry announced on Monday a law amendment aiming to remove from marriage documents any references concerning the religious affiliation of the couples, following recommendations of the human rights and personal data protection commissioners.

According to a ministry announcement, the law amendment aims at abolishing the obligatory written statement concerning the religion of those who wish to enter into marriage, and to erase the mention of religion in the marriage certificate issued in Greek and English.

“The decision on the amendment took into account that the marriage law has as its main object the establishment of procedures to be followed for the conclusion of civil marriage, although at the same time provides for the recognition of the state of religious marriages committed in our country, in any event, according to the rules of the Greek Orthodox Church or of religious groups recognised by the Constitution,” the announcement said.

The decision, it said, also took into consideration the findings of the report of the human rights commissioner, which expressed the view that the requirement of disclosure of religious beliefs through the marriage law, “violates human rights, exposes persons to discrimination and violation of rights of a person in respect of privacy and freedom of thinking, conscience and religion”.

In addition, the opinion of the commissioner for personal data protection was taken into account, “who reached the conclusions that the requirement of a written declaration of religion, mandatory or not, is not a legitimate practice”.  The commissioner ruled that “such a declaration requirement infringes the principle of proportionality and that the issuance of marriage certificate in its present form would expose the holder to discrimination”.

The interior ministry said it launched a public consultation on the matter and invites interested parties to submit their comments and suggestions no later than December 9 to [email protected]

The draft bill – Greek only –  may be found here:

http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/moi.nsf/All/FB1B7A1E3449C5BFC225806B0037706D?OpenDocument

 

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