The Parliament approved the day before yesterday, July 14, 2022, the proposal of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works to hold civil weddings in nine archaeological sites, museums and castles. The aim of this movement is to enhance the visibility of our cultural heritage.
Many congratulations for the proposal that was tabled and well done to the MPs who voted for it. Those who are preparing for marriage will be happy about the new option available to them. However, those who are preparing to enter into a Civil Union, once again, are treated as second class citizens and are wronged.
I don't know how many of you have been invited to a Civil Union, regardless of the couple's gender. I estimate very few, since the extremely simple ceremony takes place only in the District Administrations, in the presence, at most, of eight people including the couple. This was before the coronavirus, since during the pandemic, the ceremony took place behind a glass with the couple and best men signing as witnesses in 2 minutes and it was over. Even today some District Administrations have not bothered to change the procedures and the Officers and the Officials are not particularly concerned with the impact this treatment has on the couple who are supposed to be living the most beautiful day of their lives.
If we assume that for heterosexual couples, who make up 90% of Civil Unions to date, Civil Union is the third option to formalize their relationship, after Civil and Religious Marriage. Most end up with this choice because they wish to avoid; the gravity that comes with the commitment of... marriage! They only want the recognition of the State which ensures their insurance, inheritance and other rights.
But think about the remaining 10% of couples who enter into a Civil Union. Same-sex couples. For them, Civil Union is a unique option, no matter how bleak and unromantic it is. Believe me, no same-sex couple has dreamed of the day when they will go to sign their commitment at the District Administration, nor the way they will say the long-awaited "I do" in front of an Officer who is waiting to go home. At least the Municipalities realize for so many years that the financial benefits of this process are legitimate and are welcome and they compete with each other with the most "heavenly" space they can create.
I still remember the first same-sex couple who tried to put some colour on the ceremony. We ran with balloons, all 8 of us, through the sad corridors of the Nicosia District Administration, past cabinets and boxes, to go up to the third floor where the signing would take place, under the bewildered eyes of people who were there to issue a building permit or a certificate. TRA-GIC!
Until when do we expect same-sex couples to accept this humiliation without question?
It is high time that the debate on Civil Marriage was opened for everyone. "Marriage", in itself as a concept, brings with it prestige and gravity for any couple, for their family and friends. We must all have the right to marry our man in the same places. In wedding venues of the Town Halls, or other municipal venues, in event halls or hotel spaces by the municipality in question, and, now, in the nine archaeological sites, museums and castles approved by the Parliament.