The House Plenum on Thursday will be called to decide on criminalising conversion therapies aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
The law proposal, filed by Akel, aims to end the practice which has been proven to cause long-term psychological harm in individuals who undergo it.
The matter has been in discussion for more than a year and a half in the House Legal Affairs Committee.
MPs have heard from victims and advocates saying that parents send their children to psychiatrists asking them to change their sexual orientation. Moreover, they were told of cases where priests exorcised children or advised parents and non-heterosexual persons to have hormone therapy.
Due to the pressure to change their identity, some persons attempted suicide, advocates told Parliament.
The issue was sent to the House Plenum last Wednesday, May 17, however, the vote on criminalising conversion therapies was postponed, as Elam requested an amendment, which among others suggests not penalising third parties, namely priests, acting as counsellors in favour of the therapies.
Talking to Alpha TV, Elam MP Soteris Ioannou said the amendment includes the requirement of consent in these “therapies,” in order to prevent criminal prosecution of individuals who assume the role of a counsellor.
“The proposal by Akel to criminalise conversion therapies includes everything from wishes, prayers, and hormone therapies, which in other cases are legal and an inviolable right of every citizen, to torture, which is already punishable and a serious criminal offense,” Ioannou said.
“In recent years, some parties insist on promoting an ideology of 64 genders,” adding that “this ideology cannot prevail over biology, logic, and the Orthodox tradition of Cypriot Hellenism,” he added.
Akel has already voiced its disagreement with the proposed amendments, with MP George Koukoumas saying that they would fundamentally alter the nature of the bill and are based on the assumption that “LGBTQ+ individuals need to be cured.”
Also, Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said that her party will vote for the bill.
“We are in favour of the proposal. We believe that all these practices should be criminalised, in order to send a clear message to Cypriot society that the issue of sexual orientation is neither a disease requiring intervention nor something that can be changed through these so-called ‘therapies’ as referred to by the United Nations. We will see how the proposal takes shape based on the amendments that have been submitted,” she said.