Cyprus protects the rights of its lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people only to a certain extent. Consensual same-sex sexual relationships between adults, previously criminalised under Section 171 of the 1959 Criminal Code, became legal in 1998 following the Modinas v Cyprus case. Northern Cyprus, which is disputed and de facto controlled by Turkey decriminalised consensual same-sex relationships between adults in 2014.
The Cypriot Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2017 provides for the aggravation of penalties when offences are committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation. Article 6(1) of the Combating Racism and Other Forms of Discrimination (Commissioner) Act 2004 proscribes direct and indirect discrimination in public and private spheres based on sexual orientation in matters such as employment, education, health, and goods and services.
Same-sex marriages are not legally recognised though same-sex civil unions are legal since 2015. Cyprus lacks gender recognition procedures and does not provide any explicit legal recognition and protection for intersex people.
The last State party report was submitted in 2017 and contained LBTI specific information, but on same sex unions. The state party reported on their response to these unions and a new legislation that is facilitating its possibility “ “The State’s response to social relations of today, which include new forms of symbiotic relationships and a growing diversity, was the enactment of The Civil Union Law 2015 [L.184(I)/2015] on 9 December 2015, which introduced the institution of civil union in national legislation. Legally, a civil union (between same or opposite sex partners), has the same effects and consequences as a marriage solemnised in accordance with the Marriage Law, with the exception of issues relating to adoption. Up to January 2017, 88 civil unions had been solemnized.”
Apart from these LBTI rights-affirming recommendations, the Committee made some neutral observations applicable to all women that will apply to LBTI people as well.
The CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Observations to Cyprus in 2013 did not contain any SOGIESC-focused recommendations.
In 2018, The CEDAW Committee acknowledged and welcomed Cyprus’ efforts to legitimise same-sex relationships by the adoption of the Civil Union Law in 2015, which recognises “the right of LBT women to enter into same-sex civil unions and cohabitation”. The Concluding Observation made no mention of intersex people.
The civil society submission for the pre-sessional working group (PSWG) mentioned transphobic and homophobic outlooks of school authorities towards school children and youth.
However, the List of Issues produced by the Committee as a result of the PSWG remained silent on this; and instead followed up on data collated by the State Party, and raised issues around “the economic consequences of a dissolution of cohabitation, as the law providing for same-sex civil unions was adopted on 2015. By January 2017, 88 civil unions had been solemnised under this law’.
The Committee’s language is not SOGIESC-specific but also makes a recommendation to “ensure adequate protection for children born to or adopted in the context of de facto unions and other civil unions” under the section ‘Marriage and family union’ within the Concluding Observations.
These include (a) ensuring the availability and accessibility of affordable modern forms of reproductive health services for all women and girls; (b) full application of the law decriminalising abortion using protocols and regulations; (c) effective enforcement of anti-trafficking legislation to identify women who are victims of trafficking and sex work and provide them with legal support, access to shelters, rehabilitation, and exit programmes and alternative income-generation activities, if they choose to leave sex-work.
Lastly, the Committee provided recommendations to ensure protection and assistance to women who are victims of gender-based violence, in the form of human, technical, and financial resources, as well as psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.