Two convicted prisoners found love in a Cyprus institution, and they even tied the knot there.
According to NBC News, 34-year-old Kevork Tontian and 30-year-old Wemson Gabral da Costa recently became the second same-sex couple to hold a civil union or marriage ceremony inside a correctional facility within the European Union. In Cyprus, however, only civil unions are legal. Though, these unions come with the same rights and privileges as married couples (except adoption rights).
“We dare, we dare, we asked. There is no shame. Love has no shame,” Tontian told The Associated Press.
When Tontian was imprisoned in 2015 for a drug-related offense, he saw little hope for his future. As for Da Costa, they were sent to jail after an elaborate attempt to help their ailing grandmother. After telling a friend about their struggle to support the relative, Da Costa was asked to smuggle drugs. Da Costa was later caught at Cyprus’ Larnaca airport and sentenced to five years in prison.
Once inside, the two met at a bingo game. Their relationship continued to grow over time and the two were even successful in petitioning to share a cell. The two even stood strong together in the face of homophobic prison mates. Thankfully, they say authorities within the prison were supportive.
But after Tontian served his time for his original crime, he felt compelled to go back and be with the person he loved. Tontian then committed a second crime, and later a third, in order to rejoin Da Costa.
And now, the two have joined together legally under the guidance of Cyprus’ Prisons Director Anna Aristolelous and her deputy Athena Demetrou. Now, the two are preparing for Da Costa to undergo a potential gender-affirmation surgery and for the next step of their relationship. Life outside of prison. The two will be released at the same time this coming June and they plan to continue living together in Cyprus.
Sources: NBC News, AP