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Draft bill for gender identity recognition is inadequate, adviser says

The draft legislation for legal gender recognition to be approved by parliament is inadequate, the president’s advisor on diversity issues said on Monday.

In an announcement in light of International day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, the president’s advisor Costas Gavrielides said he has been discussing possible amendments with Law Commissioner Luisa Christodoulidou-Zannettou.

The draft has already been approved by the legal committee and is expected to be submitted to parliament after the Covid-19 pandemic is under control.

“Despite its approval by the legal committee, the draft law on gender identity recognition is still far from providing an easy and functional process through which a citizen can change their personal data when they wish to do so,” the advisor said.

Gavrielides said that pending the implementation of the relevant law, civil registry is expected to amend the procedure for securing travel documents for trans people so that the change of name and gender is allowed in the official documents of the Republic (identity card, birth certificate and passport).

“This is a positive step in anticipation of the approval of the gender identity legislation which will cover the process of modifying trans people’s personal data.”

He added a national action plan for the promotion of multiculturalism and the acceptance of diversity is to be prepared, which will include a number of actions and measures to protect and promote the professional and social inclusion of LGBTQI people.

In addition, the adviser is looking into ways to help the recognition of same-sex couples, including those who got married abroad.

The modification of the application of the criminalisation of homophobic and transphobic hate speech is also being discussed, Gavrielides said.

“A relevant proposal has already been submitted to the President of the Republic and it is expected that it will soon be considered in cooperation with the law.”

Cyprus is falling behind when it comes to laws concerning LGBTQI rights in relation to other European countries, however it made significant progress according to the annual ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map.

ILGA-Europe is a benchmarking tool, which ranks 49 countries in Europe on their LGBTI equality laws and policies every year. Cyprus rose to the 19th position among European Union countries from the 23rd last year, while among the 49 countries of the council of Europe, the island holds the 29 position.

The road to the elimination of discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQI community is long and difficult, the adviser said, “but we are in a better position than ever.”

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