Last edited: February 14, 2005

House Moves to Lower Age of Consent for Gay Men

Cyprus Mail, July 5, 2002
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By George Psyllides

The House is expected next week to discuss the reduction in the age of consent of homosexual males from 18 down to 16 in line with European Union human rights provisions.

Chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee Panayiotis Demetriou requested that the plenum discuss and vote for the issue during yesterday’s plenary session but House President Demetris Christofias told him it would be discussed next Thursday.

The sudden urgency of the matter is certainly linked to the island’s European accession course as the EU has clearly stressed that it would not tolerate inequalities between the treatment of homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Cyprus only decriminalised homosexuality in 1998, five years after gay activist Alecos Modinos won his battle at the European Court of Human Rights, and is now coming under pressure on issues such as age of consent and even gay partnerships rights.

But judging from the way the age of consent was treated among deputies yesterday, it is certain that such would only be passed just to be in line with the EU and not on human rights premises.

Discussions on the matter gave the impression that this was something Cyprus was obliged to do and nothing else.

"What is expected from the House is to act and comply with Europe’s recommendation," Demetriou said.

The proposed amendment, which was discussed behind closed doors earlier yesterday, provides that the age of consent for homosexual males to be reduced to 16, from the current 18, in line with legislation concerning heterosexuals.

It should be noted that the age of consent for homosexual females is already 16.

"There is a one-way road called EU accession course; travelling down this road cannot be reversed or blocked by details, with all due respect to the existing sensitivities over this matter," Demetriou said.

Asked whether the Church had tabled its position before the committee, Demetriou said: "This state is obliged to comply with legislation in force in the EU, towards which clerics and laymen say we are heading."

It would be doubtful if the Church, an ardent opponent of homosexuality, would react to reducing the age of consent, but after the legalisation of homosexuality four years ago it is certain that the all-mighty Church would fiercely react to further ‘concessions’ such as gay marriages.

The gay Euro lobby has identified eight human rights issues that should concern member states and candidate countries, including unequal legislation, gay marriages, adoption and the rights of discrimination, so homosexuals can enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

But when the matter had been mooted last year, Archbishop Chrysostomos had vowed to fight any moves by Europe, which would allow gay marriage, characterising homosexuals as depraved sinners and calling on the women of Cyprus to revolt against them.

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