The Minister of Justice and Public Order, Stephie Dracos, announced yesterday the submission to the Parliament of the Bill on the Legal Gender Recognition following its recent approval by the Council of Ministers. I am happy with this development.
Discussions on the draft bill took place for years. In 2017, to be specific, the Council of Europe, through the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit, started preparing a draft bill, with the participation of Cypriot experts and an international expert from Malta with the involvement of Accept – LOATI Cyprus. Accept - LGBTI Cyprus and the Council of Europe submitted the Bill in question to the President of the Republic of Cyprus in November 2017. Subsequently, the President commissioned the Ministry of Justice and Public Order to draft the first official Bill, the existence of which was publicly announced by the Government during the Pride March in May 2018.
In the course of these years, the first official draft of the Bill was eventually followed by many other drafts as whoever got hold of it varied it so that it had to be discussed again with everyone. This was also why the draft bill had to go through legal and technical review twice.
As Advisor to the President of the Republic, in addition to the various officials of the Ministries, I conferred with four Ministers of Justice and two Ministers of the Interior, where we thoroughly analyzed the parameters addressing questions and solving issues that could create problems in the practical application of the law. At the same time, we examined other laws in Cyprus and abroad on best practices respecting the rights of our fellow trans citizens. The Council of Europe, the international LGBTI+ civil society, through ILGA-Europe, Accept - LGBTI Cyprus and the organization's Trans Group were also consulted.
The determination of the Minister of Justice and the help of the Commissioner for Legislation, Louiza Zannetou, were essential elements for the completion of this dialogue. Thank you to both for our cooperation, which does not end here.
The Bill that the Ministry submitted to the Parliament is now ready for discussion and voting by the parties. Together with the Minister and the Commissioner, we will need to help the MPs understand the parameters of those decisions.
The Bill, now based on the right of self-determination, allows trans people to choose the name and gender they want to be referred to on their official documents of the Republic. Nothing more.
I believe there is still an opportunity to protect better young trans people, a point that the Ministry felt needed to be discussed with legislators. At the same time, we also discussed issues concerning non-binary people. However, it was considered that, at this stage, it is legally challenging to deal with this due to the many existing laws that involve different treatment of people of different genders, especially women, for whom support must exist. Finally, the Bill addresses other concerns, as it now prohibits cosmetic medical procedures on intersex infants while placing time limits on decision-making by government officials.
I intend to discuss the new Bill with the parliamentary parties in the coming days, now that they finally have it in their hands, helping to pass the new law. I am optimistic that our MPs will respond positively and quickly to this end.