CYPRUS DEBATES LEGALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Source: Cyprus Mail - Internet edition, 1997-MAY-16. 24 Vassiliou Voulgaroctonou St., Nicosia
P O Box 1144, 1502 Nicosia. Tel: +357-2-462074/5 Fax: +357-2-366385 E-mail:
Over a thousand people, including many Greek Orthodox priests and nuns, demonstrated in Nicosia,
Cyprus on MAY-15. They want to preserve the current 1929 law which criminalizes homosexual
behavior between consenting male adults.
For the second week in a row, the House Legal Affairs Committee had deferred its
decision on the bill.
One of the protesters was Archimandrite Pancratios Meraklishe. He is a priest who was accused
of being gay by Archbishop Chrysostomos in 1996. (Meraklishe was running for the post of Bishop
of Bishop of Morphou at the time. This triggered riots outside the Archbishopric in Nicosia as
thousands of Meraklis supporters lost respect for the Church).
During the demonstration, priests proclaimed the evils of decriminalizing homosexuality.
Loucas Panayiotou, from the church's Logos radio station, said: "If homosexuality is
decriminalized it will be a tragedy for all of us."
A woman yelled: "We're not Americans - we're Cypriots." She may have been voicing a
commonly held belief throughout the world that homosexuality is an American phenomenon, and
that no homosexuals existed locally until ideas from the US invaded. A nun carried a poster
stating "This is an island of saints, not homosexuals." [If her poster were true then
it would not matter if homosexuality was decriminalized because there would be no homosexuals
to practice it.]
An anti-gay organization of Orthodox Christians sponsored media ads which warned that
"the fight against the Turkish occupation of the island will be undermined" if the
law is repealed. A group of priests presented a petition to legislators urging them not to
vote in favor. It would "vindicate those who have deviated from or who have perverted the
laws of God."
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides urged the House Legal Affairs Committee to put aside
moral objections and repeal the 1929 law. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in
1993 that the law violates the European Charter of Human Rights. More recently, the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe asked Cyprus to repeal the law. It is
difficult to predict the possible consequences if the bill is not repealed; no country has so
far refused to comply with a decision of the European Court.
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