Cyprus Mail

House passes ‘improved’ anti-sexism law after president’s referral

Photo: CNA

The House on Thursday passed a law that makes sexism an offence legally punishable, accepting modifications to the bill proposed by the president.

Parliament had voted through the legislative proposal in late November, but President Nicos Anastasiades then refused to sign it into law – citing certain unconstitutional provisions – and sent it back to the House with proposals for modifications.

The law criminalises sexist behaviours manifested in public which demean, insult or single out “a specific individual or a specific group of individuals.”

“I believe the essence hasn’t changed and the law will help to fight sexism on the island,” Akel MP Skevi Koukouma told the Cyprus Mail following a meeting of the human rights committee earlier in the day.

The bill originally included a provision that foresaw the creation of a council to monitor the proper implementation of the law.

“But the president said this would be an additional cost and it would be unconstitutional,” Koukouma said.

Under the Cypriot parliamentary system, whereas government ministers and lawmakers can introduce bills, the latter may not introduce bills that increase government expenditure.

According to the change proposed by the president and accepted by MP, cabinet will assign the responsibility of the law’s implementation to an existing institution or commissioner.

The individual or institution assigned will also be responsible for organising actions and spreading awareness about sexism.

Among other wording issues, the president recommended the addition of a paragraph in the preamble reiterating the law concerns all people and not just women.

The paragraph suggests that despite the fact that historically women and LGBTI persons have been victims of sexism, including sexism manifested online, the law refers to all persons who might experience sexism.

According to Koukouma, the amendments were not radical and mostly improved the legislation.

In earlier statements to the Cyprus News Agency, Disy MP Annita Demetriou said the president’s suggestions “finds us in complete agreement, as the aim is to have a more effective and clearer framework”.

She said the law would constitute a powerful regulatory tool, in line with European norms which to adequately prevent and address human rights violations.

Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis highlighted that the president’s intervention had not aimed at withdrawing or watering down the legislation.

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