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Georgia’s ruling party unveils bill to take away LGBT citizens’ rights

Georgia’s ruling party unveils bill to take away LGBT citizens’ rights

Bill would ban sex changes, same-sex adoptions and  pro-LGBTQ gatherings.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Georgian Dream party and backer of anti-LGBTQ legislation. (Photo courtesy of Interpress News)
Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Georgian Dream party and backer of anti-LGBTQ legislation. (Photo courtesy of Interpress News)

Although the former Soviet republic of Georgia is seeking membership in the European Union, its ruling party proposes to curtail the human rights of LGBTQ Georgians — a stance that has drawn harsh criticism from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights and from the LGBTQ rights group Tbilisi Pride.

In the following article, Reuters describes the news from Georgia. Below that are statements from Europe’s commissioner for human rights  and from Tbilisi Pride.

Georgia’s ruling party proposes new law cracking down on LGBT rights

By Felix Light

TBILISI — Georgia’s ruling party [on March 25] introduced a bill curtailing LGBT rights, a move seen by opponents as an attempt to boost its popularity ahead of elections in the conservative South Caucasus country, a candidate for European Union membership.

The draft law would ban sex changes and adoption by same-sex couples, as well as prohibiting “gatherings aimed at popularising same-sex family or intimate relationships”, according to a summary published by the Georgian Dream party.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the party’s parliamentary caucus and a driving force behind the bill, said the law was necessary to protect “family values and our future generations” from what he called “pseudo-liberal values”.

In a post on Facebook, the Tbilisi Pride LGBT rights organisation called the proposed bill “homophobic”.

The country’s opposition has said that Georgian Dream’s anti-LGBT agenda is an attempt to shore up its support among conservatives and distract voters from economic problems ahead of parliamentary elections due by October.

Georgian Dream is ahead of other parties in the polls but has lost support since 2020, when it won a narrow parliamentary majority. In his briefing, Mdinaradze said the bill would likely pass only after the elections.

A predominantly Orthodox Christian nation, Georgia is deeply socially conservative, with polls showing a large majority of the population disapprove of same-sex relationships.

A far-right mob stormed a Pride festival in Tbilisi, Georgia, in July 2023 clashing with police and forcing organizers to cancel the event.. (Photo courtesy of AFP via Getty Images)
A far-right mob stormed a Pride festival in Tbilisi, Georgia, in July 2023 clashing with police and forcing organizers to cancel the event.. (Photo courtesy of AFP via Getty Images)

In recent years, Tbilisi’s annual Pride march has become a flashpoint, with far-right protesters attacking LGBT activists. Georgia’s constitution has banned same-sex marriage since 2018.

Georgia’s Interpress news agency cited Mdinaradze as telling journalists that the bill could mean Pride marches and displays of the rainbow flag would be banned if they were deemed to promote same-sex relationships.

Georgia obtained EU candidate status in December, achieving a long-standing goal.

But critics both within the country and in Western nations have in recent years accused successive Georgian Dream governments of authoritarian tendencies and excessive closeness to neighbouring Russia.

Both Russia and Hungary, an EU member state that has faced accusations of authoritarianism from foreign and domestic critics, have previously introduced their own laws against what their governments describe as LGBT propaganda.

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The office of Europe’s commissioner for human rights issued this statement on March 27:

Georgia: political manipulation and harassment of LGBTI people and human rights defenders have no place in a democratic society

“I am concerned about the present political discourse in Georgia, as illustrated by the announcement made by the Georgian Dream Party of their initiative to amend the Constitution and to adopt a new constitutional law on ‘Protection of Family Values and Underaged Persons’. It is reflective of entrenched harmful stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTI people which still prevail in segments of Georgian society, including some politicians, and is capable of having a strong, negative impact on the human rights, safety and well-being of LGBTI people and defenders of their rights. It also represents the political manipulation of LGBTI-phobia in the run-up to elections, which I have previously condemned, and which should have no place in a democratic society, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights of everyone.

Having noted once again that LGBTI people continue to be the target of hate crimes and pervasive discrimination in Georgia, as well as the regular occurrence of LGBTI people being denied their right to peaceful assembly, I have repeatedly called on the Georgian authorities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy and practice towards all forms of discrimination, and incitement to discrimination and violence, against LGBTI people. In recent months, I have followed the increasingly stigmatising rhetoric used by some politicians to undermine the legitimate work of human rights defenders and civil society in Georgia.

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I therefore call on the Georgian authorities to fully respect their human rights obligations, as a member state of the Council of Europe, including with regard to protecting the human rights of LGBTI people and ensuring an enabling environment for the activities of civil society and human rights defenders. I urge all politicians in Georgia to resolutely denounce the use of LGBTI-phobia or any other discriminatory rhetoric in electoral campaigns.

I stand in solidarity with all those who advocate for and defend the human rights of every member of Georgian society, including LGBTI people, and who work for a peaceful country and society committed to equality and the human dignity of all.”

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Tbilisi Pride posted this statement on their Facebook page on March 29:

Where hatred tears down, love builds anew!

Tbiliisi Pride image
Tbiliisi Pride image

In recent years, we have observed numerous diabolical attempts to exploit LGBTQI+ issues, which have unleashed profound and detrimental impacts on the community. These actions have resulted in an alarming number of individuals being forced to flee their homeland, while those who remain face poverty, violence, degrading treatment, and even loss of life. The latest statements from the governing party align with this harmful pattern. The underlying motives behind this inhumane strategy are clear: the government aims to divert attention from the real problems that the majority of society, including queers, have in common – poverty, unemployment, emigration, child hunger, corruption, environment under ongoing destruction, a clan-based judicial system, Russian influences, hurdles to European integration, and many others.

Now, showing the unwillingness to address the actual issues confronting the people of Georgia, the ruling party has adopted hatred as the central theme of its pre-election campaign. This strategy, aimed at further polarizing society and vilifying particular marginalized groups, stands as their sole chance for seizing power. Politicians devoid of principles are ascending to positions of authority by exploiting real individuals. This approach not only damages the queer community but also the broader society, a substantial portion of which sees emigration as the only means of survival in a political landscape saturated with hostility.

We observe heightened levels of stress, concern, and anxiety within the community and among the broader populace. We want to assure you that we are dedicated to supporting you throughout this prolonged battle. Our commitment to safeguarding fundamental human rights and achieving equality remains unwavering. We aim to convey the voices, challenges, and experiences of queer individuals to as wide an audience as possible. In the upcoming months, we will concentrate on gathering as much support from allies as possible. We are committed to establishing strong connections of solidarity with other minorities and vulnerable groups.

To effectively tackle political homophobia, your active participation is crucial. We encourage you to join our community meetings, engage in discussions, and get involved in the process in a way that aligns with your abilities and interests.

View Comment (1)
  • What i have to say to the Georgia government is: NO MEMBERSHIP of the EU as long as there is no equality for ALL in Georgia, and meanwhile “eat your shit”!

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