International Humanist and Ethical Union
41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council (24th June – 12th July 2019)
Universal Periodic Review: Cyprus
Mr Vice President, Ambassador Kasoulides,
This statement is supported by the Cyprus Humanist Association
Humanists International commends Cyprus on some important legal developments in the country since its last review.
We welcome the enactment of the Law on Civil-Partnership for same-sex couples and the amendment of the criminal code to tackle hate speech based on gender and sexual-orientation.
Humanists International also congratulates the Cypriot Parliament for the liberalisation of voluntary abortion laws.
Overall, we are very pleased to see the country accepted all of the UPR recommendations on LGBTI and women’s rights issues.
However, we would like to call the attention of Cyprus and that of the Council to the criminalisation of religious insults in the country. Articles 138, 141 and 142 of the Criminal Code fall short of meeting human rights standards to the extent that they prohibit expressions that religious people can perceive as insults to their religion. As stated in General Comment No. 34 of the Human Rights Committee, restrictions in this area comply with freedom of expression only when they apply to speeches that amount to incitement in the sense envisaged under Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Humanists International recommends the country amend the Criminal Code to bring it in line with international and European human rights law.
Lastly, we take this opportunity to follow-up on an issue that our member organisation, Cyprus Humanist Association, brought to the attention of the government last year. That is: the existence of an official school textbook that included derogatory mischaracterizations of atheists as inherently selfish and people that “act without moral inhibitions.” We ask the Government to provide information on what measures are being taken in relation to this issue and remind it that no belief group should be demonized and marginalized in this way.
'UPR Statement on Cyprus', Humanists International