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15 April, 2024
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The controversy over the ''homophobic'' school video and societal issues

From escalating tensions in parliament to Church intervention, the Cyprus debate mirrors Greek controversies on same-sex marriage and procreation

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

In Cyprus, a heated debate has ensued over a school video labeled as homophobic. Despite the Minister of Education asserting no wrongdoing, tensions escalated on social media and in Parliament, featuring Mr. Mylonas and Mrs. Attalidou. Ultimately, the Church of Cyprus intervened, directing attention to the government's stance on Religious Education. Meanwhile, Abbot Ephraim from Vatopaidi on Mount Athos, entangled in scandals, garnered attention, even being received at the Presidential Palace by President Christodoulides, all while hosting an event at the Trikkis Palace with free admission.

This controversy in Cyprus mirrors the contentious debate in Greece concerning same-sex marriage and procreation. The discourse, at times toxic, occasionally delves into the realm of fake news, especially in depicting families on commonplace packages of fresh milk.

In Cyprus, where homophobia, racism, and unscientific religious conservatism persist, discussions on secularism often traverse an ideological landscape beyond well-known texts in the realm of social media. These conversations touch on the separation of State and Church, adopting an approach that reproduces stereotypical controversies prevalent in the Greek public sphere. Monitoring Telegram channels in the Cypriot public sphere regarding sexual education reveals propaganda against it, echoing Russian narratives and the rhetoric of Natsiou's "Niki" party and Velopoulos' "Hellenic Solution" party—both thriving on radicalism and extremism for political survival. While Cyprus lacks dedicated parties in parliament exclusively addressing such issues - except ELAM, voices expressing stereotypical perceptions permeate all parties at their foundation, touching or even aligning with the logic of homophobia, racism, and religious preservation.

The opposition to sexual education requires a more comprehensive examination as it could potentially give rise to political trends shaping the 2026 elections and beyond, not limited to ELAM. This complex phenomenon deserves focused attention, allowing us to delve into the unfolding Greek debate in Cyprus and tailor our discussions to address our specific concerns.

President Christodoulides, if genuinely representing a new era and being a man of faith, should initiate a constructive State-Church dialogue. This dialogue should be free of slogans, demonstrating respect for shared religious sentiments. Additionally, there should be an understanding that education in Cyprus needs to remain secular, and the Church's focus should be on matters concerning its congregation and religious mission. It should not extend to issues of political planning derived from societal and political developments, such as the Cyprus problem, education, and our broader society. In Cyprus, there is no need to engage in debates about whether the traditional family has disappeared from the milk carton, as falsely propagated by Velopoulos in Greece. Nor should we believe that the Church of Cyprus can express scientific positions on whether a 12-year-old boy should be taught using a graph depicting his patron – whose cancer is causing people in Cyprus to die because they aren't undergoing a colonoscopy.

[This article was translated from its Greek original and edited for brevity and clarity]

Cyprus  |  homophobia  |  LGBTQIA

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