The Cyprus House of Representatives on
Thursday approved a much-anticipated civil unions bill.
The unicameral Mediterranean island
nation is the second most religious state in the European Union
Gay or straight couples entering a
civil union will receive all the rights and obligations given to a
married couple with the exception of joint adoption.
The legislation cleared the chamber
with 39 votes. Twelve MPs voted against the bill, while 3 abstained,
according to the Cyprus
“This bill is not about
homosexuality, rather we are voting for freedom and equality,” said
DIKO MP Nicholas Papadopoulos. “It is about allowing an
LGBT rights activists applauded passage
of the bill.
“It is a very big step for the LGBT
community,” Nicholas Tryfon of the LGBT group Accept Cyprus told
the Cyprus Mail. “It gives promise to gay people that they
can be together legally.”
“We have been fighting for this for
the past two years. Since the second gay pride parade it seems there
is hope for change generally in the Cyprus community,” he added.
The Cyprus Orthodox Christian church
strongly opposes gay rights, saying last year that it considers
homosexuality “an illness.”
President Nicos Anastasiades has not
commented on passage of the bill.