Last edited: February 14, 2005

Amnesty concern at new gay law

Cyprus Mail, May 26, 1998

By Jean Christou

Gay rights activist Alecos Modinos wants Europe to take a close look at the new law passed last week decriminalising homosexuality between consenting adults.

Amnesty International has already declared the wording of the law unacceptable and a breach of human rights.

"I would be very happy for the European Commission to look at the law that has been passed," Modinos told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

"They have abolished one law to make another one much worse."

It was Modinos who brought the successful action against the old law at the European Court of Human Rights, bringing international pressure to bear on the government to adopt new legislation.

The wording of the new law, designed to appease the opposition of the Church and the anti-gay lobby, refers to homosexuality as "unnatural licentiousness", while other vague terms, such as "indecent proposals" or "advertising" by homosexuals are all punishable by jail terms.

Amnesty said that while it welcomed the passing of the law, it had "serious misgivings" about some of the provisions, which the organisation believes contravene human rights.

"We believe the provisions must either be deleted or amended," Amnesty said.

"We do, however, consider it likely that the Cypriot authorities will give the correct interpretation to the law to ensue it does not violate citizens' guaranteed rights under the constitution."

The organisation warned that anyone sentenced under any of the "objectionable provisions" would be adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty.

"We believe that discrimination against homosexuals continues because the sentences provided for under the new law are not analogous with those stipulated for the same crimes committed by heterosexuals," Amnesty said.

"Unnatural licentiousness, which is referred to many times in the new law, implies condemnation of the homosexual act."

And Modinos said the new law was more discriminatory than the old one. "Before, the offences related to any person. Now it's referring only to males. And calling us 'licentious' in itself stigmatises us," he said. "These extra provisions were added to satisfy the Church."

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