Last edited: December 05, 2004

Cyprus Gay Rights Activist Welcomes Amendment to Homosexuality Law

Cyprus Mail, June 10, 2000

By Jean Christou

Gay rights activist Alecos Modinos yesterday welcomed parliament’s amendment of offensive terms in the law legalising homosexuality, but criticised the delay in changing the two-year-old legislation.

When the law decriminalising homosexuality between consenting adults was passed in May 1998, after a five-year battle, deputies left in a reference to "unnatural licentiousness", which the gay community objected to.

It has taken the House another two years to amend the offending term, which they replaced with the phrase "intercourse between men" at Thursday’s plenum.

Many deputies left the floor during the vote, because of the controversial nature of the homosexual issue. Archbishop Chrysostomos said yesterday he had not been aware of the change, but said he regretted the House had taken this turn.

Modinos, an architect, said yesterday what counted was that the EU would not accept the law because it was full of discriminatory terms.

"It did not put the homosexual person on an equal footing with the heterosexual. I hope that with this amendment homosexuals will be dealt with as equals and as first class citizens like the rest of the population, and that only the criminals will be punished, whether they are homosexuals or heterosexuals," Modinos said.

"I think it‚€™s a shame for Cyprus to be tarnished because a team of deputies did not sit for five years from 1993 to 1998 to study and understand what it’s all about and still talk today about ‚€˜unnatural licentiousness‚€™, which is a negative term and stops the integration of homosexuals into society."

But one of the two deputies who remained at the plenum to vote against the change said yesterday he believed there were more important issues.

Disy deputy Evangelos Sammoutas said Europe could not turn a blind eye to Turkey’s human rights record and at the same time insist that Cyprus change its law on homosexuality.

"It’s not such an important thing," he said.

"Two years ago, we were asked to vote on the law which we argued about. We used words that are Greek and now we’re asked to change that to intercourse. We know the meaning of the second word but we also we know the meeting of the first."

The law, which outlawed homosexuality between consenting male adults, was only amended in 1998 after five years of stalling and several ultimatums from the Council of Europe in the wake of the successful case to the European Court of Human Rights brought by Modinos against Cyprus.

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