Last edited: February 14, 2005

Cyprus Church vs. Sodomy Reform

Newsplanet, 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 religious survival."

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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