Cyprus Mail

Cyprus fails to hail Greece’s same-sex marriage law

greek parliament votes on bill legalising same sex marriage
Members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate the passage of the law in Athens

Cyprus has been notably absent in congratulating Greece on passing the same-sex marriage law, failing to be one of 28 countries with embassies in Athens to congratulate them.

Greece passed the law on Thursday allowing same-sex marriages, which opens the road for these couples to adopt.

Following the passing of the bill, 28 foreign embassies in Greece sent a congratulatory message to Athens, which became the first Eastern Orthodox country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.

Cyprus, however, was silent on entire matter, despite Greece being one of the guarantors of the country and the close relationship between the two states. The silence is a rare exception for Cyprus which traditionally follows Greece’s lead on most policies.

On Friday, NGO Accept LGBT said that Greece had taken a “risk” as it is also a conservative country, where the church attempted to “scaremonger” faithful against the bill.

Speaking on Alpha later in the day, the legal expert and secretary of Accept Stefanos Evangelides said the time is “ripe” following Greece’s vote and said that meetings with the justice minister and all parties will follow.

He added Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a national strategy for LGBT rights, while Cyprus does not have one.

Also commenting, the head of the legal department of the University of Cyprus, Kostas Paraskevas, shared the opinion on Saturday that Cyprus does not have to follow suit with Greece.

“In the eyes of the Republic of Cyprus they [same sex couples] are not married. Unless they have entered into a civil partnership recognised by the Republic of Cyprus.”

Paraskevas said that neither the Council of Europe nor the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have imposed such an obligation to recognise same-sex marriage on EU member states.

“The reason is that there is no common prevailing opinion and unanimity in the European Council on the issue, the legal orders of the 46 member states of the Council differ and the Strasbourg court has already acknowledged that it cannot impose same-sex marriage.”

According to Paraskevas, the only obligation of the Republic of Cyprus and other European countries have is to recognise civil partnerships in cases where they are included in national legislation. Cyprus has institutionalised the civil partnership since 2015 and is therefore obliged to recognise it based on decisions of the Council of Europe.

Civil unions, which are legal in Cyprus, allow for certain rights, including inheritance, etc, while civil marriage opens the road for a couple to also be able benefit from family law, and rights associated with adoption and having children.

With civil unions, only the biological parent, from either a surrogate or IVF is recognised as the parents of a child.

On Friday, the government failed even further to acknowledge the win for Greece, saying that Cyprus is a different country and that the politicians and society here were not ready for such a step.

“Currently these [LGBT rights] are not at the fore either in the political sphere or the communal sphere,” deputy government spokesman Yiannis  Antoniou said.

“Neither politicians nor society prioritise LGBT rights.”

Antoniou expressed the view that at some point this dialogue will be opened in Cyprus, but emphasised that such matters are regulated by society.

“The government, by itself, is not willing to take the initiative, because we do not have a parliamentary majority,” he explained.


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