Yesterday, 25 May 2023, the Parliament of Cyprus passed a bill criminalising conversion therapy practices targeting LGBTQIA+ individuals. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the organisations and activists who have tirelessly advocated for this significant milestone in the country! As young people are the most affected by such harmful practices, this is a major step towards the protection and safety of LGBTQIA+ youth in Cyprus.
The newly enacted law amends the penal code, making it a criminal offence for any individual to engage in practices, techniques, or services aimed at converting, suppressing, or eradicating someone's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Moreover, the law prohibits advertising such conversion therapies or techniques. It also holds legal guardians accountable if they refer individuals for these activities.
Under this legislation, individuals found guilty of practising — or advertising — conversion therapies can face imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine not exceeding €5,000. If these practices are conducted on a minor, the prison sentences can extend up to three years, with a maximum fine of €10,000.
As we celebrate this remarkable advancement for the community's rights in Cyprus, it is crucial to acknowledge a recent last-minute amendment that specifically addresses the right to consciousness, thought, and religion, as enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. It is worth noting that these provisions also allow for the potential limitation of the expression of consciousness, thought, and religion if it has an impact on third parties or infringes upon other legally protected rights and interests.
Following the bill's passage, our Member Organisation Accept Cyprus expressed their elation in a statement: "We've done it! Pseudo-conversion therapies are now criminalised across the board." They extended their gratitude to everyone who stood by their side and emphasised their next goals, including civil marriages/adoption and legal recognition of gender identity.
While there is still much work to be done to ensure the comprehensive protection of all our communities' rights through national legislation, this significant step forward deserves recognition.
Yassine Chagh (he/they)
IGLYO Board Member, Cyprus