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Posts for November, 2015

Cyprus votes for civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

November 28th, 2015

cyprusCyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey and Lebanon. Traditionally ethnically and religiously Greek, it is the easternmost part of the European Union. The nation of about one million people has a democratic government, which is currently controlled by a pro-West party. (About 17% of the population is Turkish, but they consider themselves a separate nation and do not participate in Cyprus’ legislature).

Cypriots tend to be religious and the Orthodox Church (Greek) has significant sway on the community. But while the Church – and the population – is socially conservative, inclusion in the European Union appears at this time to be an economic necessity. And European courts and political entities have stressed the importance of recognition of same-sex couples.

On Thursday, the Cyprus House of Representatives voted to allow civil unions, with all the rights (other than adoption) granted to married couples. (

The Cypriot parliament has voted in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill, meaning that same-sex unions will be legally recognised in the Mediterranean republic for the first time.

The House of Representatives voted by 39 to 12 in favour of extending same-sex couples in civil partnerships the same legal rights as civil marriage. However, join adoption rights were not included in the new civil union legislation.

Greece, Italy, and Cyprus move towards civil unions

Timothy Kincaid

June 10th, 2015

Three Southern European countries are taking steps closer to civil unions.

Today Italy‘s lower house has passed a motion supporting civil unions. (

The motion commits the government “to promote the adoption of a law on civil unions, particularly with regard to the condition of the people of same sex”.

It also commits the government “to ensure equal treatment throughout the nation” of civil unions. Premier Matteo Renzi and Justice Minister Andrea Orlando have both said recently that Italy needs a civil unions law.

The motion was approved with 204 votes in favor, 83 against and 98 abstentions.

While this would, no doubt, have infuriated previous Pope Benedict the Malevolent, when Argentina was considering implementing marriage equality, Pope Francis (who was Archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time) proposed civil unions as a compromise. So Vatican opposition may be less fierce than it would have been a few years back.

In April, the government of Cyprus drafted a civil unions bill and sent it to Parliament. (Gay Star News)

The Cypriot Cabinet Wednesday (6 April) approved a long-awaited civil partnership bill that would allow gay couples to register their relationships and grant them all marriage rights except joint adoption.

The legislation will now be sent to parliament, where it will be discussed and put to a vote.

The bill is considered likely to pass.

Also today, the Greek government announced a bill to enact civil unions. (PappasPost)

Greece’s Ministry of Justice announced today it plans to introduce legislation— for the first time in Greek history— giving Civil Union rights to same sex couples. The bill, which will be part of broader legislation introduced, includes rights on insurance, taxation, inheritance and other privileges afforded to other Greek citizens.

The bill is expected to pass Parliament in Early July.

Cyprus moves towards couple recognition

Timothy Kincaid

February 20th, 2013

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.

The race for eighth (and ninth and tenth)

Timothy Kincaid

April 14th, 2010

With Italy now out of the running, the big question is which nation will be the eighth to recognize same-sex marriage. The contestants are:

Portugal – the legislature passed the bill. The President sent it to the supreme court which approved the bill. And now he has until about the end of the month to either veto or sign it. It vetoed, there are probably enough votes to overturn. The time frame is between immediately and early May.

Nepal – it is believed that same-sex marriage will be included in the new constitution. This should be in place no later than May 28, 2010.

Iceland – the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News is reporting:

The Sigurdardóttir administration presented the bill to Parliament on March 23. The bill’s passage is expected soon, and same-sex marriage could become legal as early as June 27

– the Minister of Justice said in January that marriage would be legalized by the legislature’s summer break.

– Although the administration intends to legalize marriage, without a law in place several judges are fighting over whether to grant couples the right to marry. In addition to the male couples previously reported, two women have now legally married in Buenos Aires (Santiago Times):

Two women that were exiled during the last Argentine military dictatorship (1976/1983) were married Friday in Buenos Aires, the first wedding among lesbians in the country, reported the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Federation of Argentina, or FALGBT.

Norma Castillo, from Uruguay, and Ramona Arevalo, Argentine, were married by Judge Elena Liberatori after having requested legal protection within the framework of the campaign “Same right, same names,” which the LGBT Argentine Federation has been carrying out for several months. They are both 67 years old and have been a couple for over 30 years.

Slovenia – the Family Law Bill does appear to continue to move forward but it is difficult to figure out just where things stand.

Cyprus – this tiny island seems to have dropped out of the race. Earlier this week the Cypriot government continued pondering the issue but the language now seems to focus on “partnerships”. (Cyprus Mail)

THE GOVERNMENT will take “seriously” the Ombudswoman’s latest report recommending legal reforms to allow same-sex partnerships, said Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Lazaros Savvides yesterday.

“No decision has been taken. It is something we have to study a bit further. We have not closed the issue, it remains open,” he said.
Savvides told the Sunday Mail that the various departments will continue to examine the issue and reconvene after June to discuss the matter.

Cyprus government to consider marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2010

From the Cyprus Mail:

The Government will soon examine the issue of making same-sex marriages legal in Cyprus, Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Lazaros Savvides has told the Sunday Mail.

Savvides said that the intention is to hold a meeting next month involving the Attorney-general’s office, Law Commissioner Leda Koursoumba, Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou – who also heads the Authority against Racism and Discrimination – as well as senior representatives of the relevant government ministries.

Should Cyprus enact marriage equality, it could have an impact on the area. Israel does not have civil marriage laws and those who wish to marry must either do so according to Orthodox rules or leave the country to marry elsewhere. Those who aren’t Jewish or aren’t religious often go to Cyprus. Israel does currently offer some limited recognition to foreign-married gay couples, so a change in Cyprus would be a benefit for gays in Israel as well.

Cyprus is one of the most religious nations in the European Union, primarily Greek Orthodox, as well as being its furthest east. Although discussions will occur, there is no certainty that equality will result.