Cleric bans poses by Cyprus churches over lewd wedding photo

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Couples who marry in civil ceremonies have been banned from taking wedding photos outside places of worship in a Cyprus region known for hosting destination weddings, a senior Orthodox Christian cleric announced Friday after an uproar over a lewd photo taken in a chapel courtyard.

Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos said he imposed the ban after "shameful" photos turned up online of what appeared to be a bride performing oral sex on her husband outside a small chapel.

"They can't insult public morals in this way," Vasilios told the Sigma TV station. "It's a shame for such lewd acts to take place outside a church."

The Metropolitan said he wrote the attorney general on the eastern Mediterranean island to ask if there are grounds to take legal action against the British couple, but hasn't yet received a reply.

"This has caused great upheaval in our community and I couldn't remain with my hands tied," he said.

Thousands of civil marriages are performed on Cyprus every year because of its idyllic coastal vistas and year-round sunshine. The ceremonies are a prime money-earner for local municipalities. Many ceremonies involve Britons as well as couples from neighboring countries where civil weddings aren't allowed.

But Vasilios insisted visitors must show more respect.

"This isn't a free-for-all," he added.

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