The need to combat sexism and discrimination between genders which constitute de facto violations of human rights and fundamental liberties has led to the voting of the Law on Combatting Sexism and Sexism Spreading via Internet and Relevant Matters 2020 ('the Law'), published on 28/12/2020.
The purpose of the legislator, amongst other, is eradication, to the degree possible, of incidents involving sexism and gender stereotypes in Cypriot society, in order to establish a framework of security and equal opportunity between genders in education, the job market, professional development and promotion, as well as the assumption of executive positions in all sectors.
Consequently, as determined in the Law, sexism consists of any public or private sexist behavior against a person or group of persons, and includes any action, gesture, representation, practice, written or verbal communication based on the idea or belief a person or group of persons are inferior because of their gender which aim to:
- Undermine the rights of the victim, by targeting and decreasing their sense of decency, and deprive them of access to public services or create unequal access to funds; or
- Physically, psychologically or socioeconomically traumatise the victim; or
- Create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for the victim; or
- Promote or strengthen gender stereotypes and ensuing gender discrimination.
The surge of incidents of sexism involving internet attacks, which prevent victims from freely expressing their views and lead to withdrawal of such victims from the internet, while constituting a violation of freedom of speech in the context of a democratic society, led to the criminalisation of sexism which registers on computer networks.
Under the Law, intentional sexism and internet-spreading sexism constitute criminal offences, and upon successful conviction result in custodial sentence up to 1 year or a fine up to ?5.000 or both. Criminal liability not only rests with physical persons but also with legal persons governed by private law for both the offenses of intentional sexism and internet-spreading sexism, where the physical person who perpetrates the offence is part of the administrative body or holds a senior managerial position in that body on account of:
- Authority to represent the legal person, or
- Authority to make decisions in the name of the legal person, or
- Authority to exercise control within the legal person.
Conviction of the legal person may bring a financial penalty up to ?5.000 and the court may additionally impose the following sanctions to the legal person for the duration determined in the judgment:
- A temporary ban on any public benefits or support; and
- A temporary ban on the exercise of any commercial activity.
In addition to sexism in the realm of legal persons governed by public law, similar initiatives are taken by the office of Gender Equality Commissioner in public administration. An example of such initiative includes the issuing of linguistic sexism in public and administration documents.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.