Cyprus's first gay pride march will highlight lack of rights

Thu May 29, 2014 7:38am EDT
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By Michele Kambas

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's first Gay Pride march on Saturday will highlight the lack of legal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens 16 years after homosexuality was decriminalized.

Gay couples in Cyprus do not have the same rights to social housing and other benefits as heterosexuals and miss out on other entitlements such as being consulted over medical treatment if a partner is ill.

"Nothing has happened to improve the legal rights of LGBT since 1998," said Costas Gavrielides, head of Accept LGBT Cyprus, a group representing some 700 people.

He noted that the government, elected in early 2013, had still not made good on a campaign pledge to submit legislation to allow gay civil partnerships to parliament within a year.

“We are strongly pushing for this to materialize ... We believe that society has moved on much more than politicians,” Gavrielides said, adding that many heterosexual supporters were also expected to join the march through the capital Nicosia.

Some sections of Cypriot society still consider homosexuality taboo, and the island's conservative Orthodox Church has described it as an "illness which needs treatment".

The Church's ruling body said in a recent statement that it opposed the "institutional and social acceptance" of homosexuality, which was not a "normal way of life".

A religious group said it plans a counter march on Saturday.   Continued...