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 behind Malta.
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 Mail.
“This bill is not about homosexuality, rather we are voting for freedom and equality,” said DIKO MP Nicholas Papadopoulos. “It is about allowing an alternative union.”
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.
by On Top Magazine Staff
Source – On Top Magazine