Cyprus is a oddity. It is a member state of European Union and is ethnically about three quarters Greek. But it is geographically in the Middle East, bout 50 miles south of Turkey and within 100 miles off shore of Syria and Lebanon.
While there is a Turkish Muslim minority, Cyprus prides itself as one of the earliest Christian outposts, evangelized by Paul. Most Cypriots are Greek Orthodox and the nation is very religious.
However, Cyprus provides a slightly bizarre service to one of its other close neighbors.
In Israel, marriage is controlled by the official religious institutions which, if you are Jewish, is the orthodox Israeli rabbinate. And if you don’t qualify for a traditional halakhah wedding – or aren’t particularly religious – your options are limited. However, Israel registers foreign marriages without much question (including same-sex marriages), so many mixed-faith or non-religious Israelis travel out of the country to marry. Most go to Cyprus.
And it is against this background that Cyprus is beginning the process of allowing same sex couples to have some form of legal recognition. (CyprusMail) They’ve been discussing it since 2010 (though the news tended to translate as “marriages” at that time) but it looks as though a bill is finally going forward.
HUMAN rights group ACCEPT-LGBT yesterday hailed the Cabinet’s recent decision to pass a draft bill on civil partnership in order to enable couples to be legally recognised outside of marriage.
The process has several more steps, but as best I can tell it has support from most of the political power structure. It’s fascinating to watch as the nations on the borders between East and West begin to address issues of equality.