Cypriot lawmakers are crying foul over a social media post by a controversial colleague after his comment about a female pro-LGBTQI parliamentarian with a reference to “three black men” was described as “vulgar” and “racist.”
Independent MP Andreas Themistocleous got called out by lawmakers and social media pundits over the weekend after he made a comment on Thursday about Green MP Alexandra Attalides, who had taken to Twitter to celebrate the passing of legislation that criminalizes conversion therapies in sexual orientation.
“Apparently the three black men never showed up,” Themistocleous wrote.
The comment appeared in response to Attalides’ tweet on Thursday, when she called for an “end to torture against persons within the LGBTQI community.”
But Themistocleous is fighting back, saying the reference to 'three black men' was a response to comments initially made by Attalides
Attalides reportedly filed a complaint against Themistocleous, with the House announcing they would adhere to ethics rules and follow procedure after colleagues said the comment was “vulgar” and “racist.”
On Friday Justice Minister Anna Koukkides Procopiou ordered an investigation into the incident but it was not fully clear whether police would conduct a criminal probe.
MP Aristos Damianou, a lawyer by trade, called for actions against his male colleague, telling state radio on Monday morning that Themistocleous was a repeat offender, known for making controversial comments and off-the-cuff remarks.
Damianou, who read on the air verbatim two articles of the House relating to the code of conduct, also pointed out that Themistocleous’ remark came at a time when Attalides was grieving over the loss of her mother.
But Themistocleous is fighting back, saying the reference to “three black men” was a response to comments initially made by Attalides.
“It was not I who brought into the political discourse the phrase ‘I got messages that they were going to send three Blackamoors to find me’ but it was Ms. Attalides on her own, without pressure from anyone, to make it seem in public as if she was getting threats for her political views,” Themistocleous wrote over the weekend.
Attalides said in December 2022 that she had been receiving threats over her positions on gay rights, including messages that they were going to send three black men to find her.
“So I simply took up the gauntlet that was thrown by Ms. Attalides and I used her own phrase to criticize her own post about the supposedly many centuries of oppression and so called torture against LGBTQI, and that from today, after tonight’s vote on the new law, the oppression and torture finally came to an end,” Themistocleous wrote on Thursday.
Lawmakers on ethics committee want him out
Attalides and other lawmakers have called for Themistocleous to be ousted from the ethics committee, prompting House Speaker Annita Demetriou to call for an emergency committee hearing.
But Demetriou declined requests to remove Themistocleous.
“The president of the parliament cannot act outside the rules, besides, Mr. Themistocleous does not belong to only one committee,” Demetriou said.
Attalides “won’t let this go”
Attalides says she “won’t let this go” and told local media that she was in contact with her lawyer for any possible further action.
“I have no dispute with Mr. Themistocleous,” Attalides said, adding that she had seen reports that wrongly pointed to a confrontation.
“I have not spoken with him. There was no confrontation between us. I didn’t even address him. I just spoke from the rostrum of the House and expressed my views about the legislation that criminalizes pseudo reparative therapies,” Attalides said.
Police told Knews that they were collecting information but declined to say whether a criminal probe was ongoing, adding that investigators would consult with the Legal Department as they seek ways to handle the case.
Themistocleous also alleged that Attalides failed to report the initial threat to police regarding the Blackamoor reference, saying the female lawmaker claimed “she doesn’t trust the rule of law in the Republic of Cyprus.”