Cyprus Church vs. Sodomy Reform
Thursday, April 9, 1998
The homophobic clock is ticking in Cyprus with EU membership hanging in the balance,
the Archbishop frothing at the mouth and the Parliament poised for a vote.
Instead of moving towards membership in the European Union, Cyprus may lose its
membership in the Council of Europe if homosexual acts between consenting adults aren't
decriminalized in May, but the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus has mounted a major
campaign in defense of the sodomy law. It was 1993 when Cyprus gay activist Alecos Modinos
won his European Court case which ordered the sodomy reform, and a meeting of the Council
of Europe on April 7 gave the island nation one more month before it will consider
disciplinary action. It's been made clear that no more excuses will be accepted and no
further postponements granted.
Archbishop Chrysostomos spoke out in the strongest terms against reform that same day,
and the church had already sent letters to all the members of parliament calling on them
to vote against it. The stakes are high for the country, because Europe has been and
remains its best hope of retaining independence in the face of Turkish incursions; several
European lawsuits by Greek Cypriot refugees are pending against Turkey. Parliamentary
debate will not take place until after the April 19 Greek Orthodox Easter observance.
"If we don't stand firm and tell Europe this does not conform, not only to
Christ's religion, but also to the moral standpoint of our nation, eventually they will
come and tell us to be homosexuals in order to be accepted into Europe," the
Archbishop said in an interview on CyBC TV. "If you go and say it's all right to be a
homosexual you will encourage it and the place will be full of homosexuals.... It is a
violation both of the laws of the Creator God and the laws of nature. God made males and
females for the reproduction both of animals and humans. Homosexuality is against the
purpose of creation.... The Church considers decriminalization to be against what is holy
and against human dignity...and this while we are waging a tough war for our national and
The letter sent to members of parliament by the Holy Synod reportedly called the issue
"a matter of honor," saying that "The Church condemns homosexuality as a
sinful and repulsive act because it is contrary to the spirit of Scripture and the law of
nature." The church maintains that decriminalization will damage marriage and the
family, Christianity and morals. The letter also expressed the Church's "sorrow"
for those "who have been dragged into the sad position of homosexuality," and
urged their repentance.
Nonetheless, the government expects to succeed in winning passage of sodomy reform.
Members of parliament have done their best over the years to duck the issue, which has
inevitably generated large and angry demonstrations from opponents of reform when it comes
up for debate.
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