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The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the  country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well. 

Corina Demetriou

Country context

Cyprus was granted independence in 1960 with a Constitution that set out a power-sharing system, strictly communally divided between the ‘Greeks’ and the ‘Turks’. The Constitution recognises two ‘communities’, the Greeks and the Turks and three ‘religious groups’, the Maronites, the Armenians and the Latins. The ‘religious groups’ were obliged to opt to belong to one of the ‘communities’ and opted to belong to the Greek community.

Main principles and definitions

All definitions of ‘discrimination’ contained in the Directives are virtually replicated in the national laws. Thus, direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, instructions to discriminate and victimisation, which are prohibited on all five grounds, follow verbatim the definitions in the Directives. Discrimination by association is not explicitly covered in the anti-discrimination laws, but is covered by Protocol 12 to the ECHR; in addition,an equality body decision in 2010 applied the principle established in Coleman, extending the prohibition of disability discrimination to the carers of persons with disability.

Enforcing the law

Victims have the option of submitting a complaint to the equality body or to the courts. Litigation could either be in the field of administrative law, via recourse to the Supreme Court to set aside an administrative act under article 146 of the Constitution, or to the district court or labour tribunal in accordance with the laws transposing the two Directives, or to the district court for violation of the constitutional anti-discrimination provision.

Main legislation

The Cypriot Constitution contains a general anti-discrimination provision (article 28) which corresponds to Article 14 of the ECHR, but includes additionally the ground of belonging to either the ‘Greek’ or the ‘Turkish’ community. Age, disability and sexual orientation are not explicitly covered by the Constitution, although they are deemed as included in the term “any other ground whatsoever” in article 28.

Material scope

The anti-discrimination laws cover both the private and the public sector and include all fields provided in the Directives. Thus, discrimination on all five grounds is forbidden in employment, access to vocational training, working conditions including pay, membership of trade unions or other associations. In addition, discrimination on the ground of racial/ethnic origin is forbidden in the field of social protection, medical care, social provision, education and access to goods and services available to the public including housing. Subject to conditions, the disability law provides for the right to equal treatment in the provision of goods, facilities and services.

Equality bodies

In 2004, the Ombudsman was appointed as the national equality body, empowered:


  • to combat racial discrimination as well as discrimination forbidden by law and generally discrimination on the grounds of race, community, language, colour, religion, political or other beliefs and national or ethnic origin;
  • to promote equality of enjoyment of rights safeguarded by the Constitution or by the Conventions ratified by Cyprus (which includeProtocol 12 of the ECHR and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) irrespective of race, community, language, colour, religion, political or other beliefs, national or ethnic origin;
  • to promote equality of opportunity irrespective of the aforesaid grounds plus the grounds of special needs and sexual orientation.
Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.