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LGBTQIA community rights lacking in Cyprus

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On 25 September, Cyprus Pride will happen again, and we march proudly and visibly with the slogan “Marriage for all”.

In addition to the march, various actions are organised to support the LGBTI community, such as debates, workshops, and events to inform, empower and promote the community’s visibility.

A community that is still demanding the obvious, namely the acquisition of equal rights and the right to live, love, and exist without fear.

But how far do we regard the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in Cyprus?

Let’s start with the ultimate one, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the private homosexual acts between consenting adults.

This happened through a legal fight by Modinos, which liberated the very existence of being a community member and not being criminalised due to sexual preferences.

No laws restrict the discussion and/or promotion of LGBTQ+ topics, and discrimination is illegal in Cyprus, as LGBT rights are protected.

For example, LGBT discrimination in the workplace is illegal, but this does not mean there are homophobic instances and cases in the workplace since many companies have failed to introduce an action plan to ban homophobia and bullying from the workplace.

In 2015, the penal code was amended, making it a crime to engage in unacceptable behaviour and violence against people based on their sexual orientation.

The law criminalises “the deliberate public, and in a threatening fashion, incitement to hatred or violence, by any other means, against any group of persons, or a member of a group based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Despite this law, reports of hatred, violence or even crime against the LGBTQIA community are not taken up by the police, and we still have not seen any legal penalties for crimes committed.

The police are falling behind in understanding hate crimes and if attacks against the community are hate crimes or not.

Since 2015, same-sex marriage has been adopted in law as civil unions or civil partnerships. However, civil unions are not fully equal in rights as in heteronormative marriages, and family law is not applied in civil unions that involve same-sex couples.

Marriage

Even though there are legal claims that civil partnership agreements cover the same rights as heteronormative marriage, this is not the case,

Family law is still to be extended to include same-sex couples with a civil union.

Same-sex adoption is not legal in Cyprus.

Same-sex couples do not have the right to adopt.

Same-sex couples follow the method of assisted reproduction to have a family at the moment, which applies only to women in a civil partnership.

Gay men do hot hold the right either to adopt or to have a child through assisted reproduction through a surrogate.

In cases where same-sex married couples have a child, then only the custody of the biological father is recognised, while the other non-biological partner has no parent status.

This means non-biological parents have no legal status regarding the child’s well-being, for instance, being contacted by their school, being present and picking up their child from school, or even signing documents at the hospital as a parent.

Conversion therapy is not banned in Cyprus.

This is outrageous for a progressive country, and conversion therapies or treatments should be completely abolished under any circumstance.

We cannot allow medieval practices to take place in 2022.

We must still address and adopt gender identity and establish legal frameworks when people want to change their names and gender recognition purposes.

Also, we are not even close to legally addressing hate crimes and hate speech against trans and intersex people.

We do not teach in schools what are alternative and rainbow families.

The Ministry of Education established a programme in 2017 to train teachers about bullying and harassment directed at LGBTQIA students.

Still, teachers do not explain in schools what a rainbow family is.

They do not cover the existence of families that have two mums and two dads, or whatever the rainbow family is structured.

We still have a long way to go.

This is why we need pride, events and visibility actions to bring these issues forward, face them and give space for LGBTQ+ people to raise their voices.

By Natasa Ioannou, Member of the Political Committee, Cyprus Green Party