Georgia On Dangerous Path: Homophobic Amendment In the Constitution In the Name of Anti-Discrimination

On March 28, 2014 Prime Minister of Georgia announced the homophobic intention of his Government to amend the Constitution of Georgia: “I would like to propose an initiative, that we amend the Constitution, that a family is an union between a woman and a man. This is what Latvia did, much like Croatia, which took similar measure before joining the EU.”

Georgia’s Prime Minister spoke about Anti-Discrimination Draft Law  his government has sent to the Parliament. There, his own “Georgian Dream” Coalition may pose biggest challenge to the draft law. GD is a loose coalition of political parties,  where conservatives, nationalists and politicians with deep anti-West sentiments hold majority vote.

Irakli Garibashvili, Georgia’s Prime Minister didn’t even try to pretend the constitutional amendment wasn’t directed to pleasing radicals from his own coalition. “Despite the fact, that Georgia’s existing laws already view family as a union between a woman and a man, in order to avoid misinterpretation, I think, it is desirable to have this inscribed into the Constitution. This law [Anti-Discrimination Law) doesn’t create any new type of right for anyone; It doesn’t privilege one social group over another. Law only ensure that, everyone be able to use those rights, that are already given by  Constitutions” – Prime Minister said. “The initiative is already approved by the leaders of the coalition”, he added.

It is unclear what stance UNM, Georgia’s Parliamentary minority will take. Some UNM leaders went on the record, criticising the initiative; however they have also hinted  that should such an initiative come before the MPs, they might not object it.  This was a puzzling move, since the UNM has been branding itself as the exclusive champion of pro-European integration and movement in Georgia.UNM holds 40% of votes in the Parliament. For constitutional amendment  which requires 3/5 of total votes, 53 UNM members would need to vote in favour.

Georgia, world’s one of the most homophobic countries in the world, holds local self-government elections on  June 15. Campaigning on  xenophobic and recently, on homophobic grounds has been a strategy of choice for most political players in the country, since it gained independence in the 1990s.

A crowd attacks a minibus carrying gay rights activists during an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Tbilisi, May 17, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

The initiative came as  shock to many, since the issue of same-sex marriage has never come to the agenda of LGBT movement in Georgia which has struggled to exercise basic rights to security and protection. In 2012 and in 2013, under UNM and GD parties being in power, respectively, Georgia has consistently failed to ensure the freedom of assembly for Georgian LGBT activists. Georgia has not been able to persecute a single person for the horrific attacks against LGBT activists and supporters on  May 17th, IDAHO day.

Therefore, constitutionally banning the prospect of marriage equality, already banned by Georgia’s Civil Code, can only be seen as a homophobic move. It further deteriorates already feeble state of LGBT human rights in Georgia.

If the amendment is successfully initiated, it will directly violate universal equality of single parents, LGBT community and many others who do not live nuclear families. Alarmingly, this homophobic and cynical move ultimately kills the very spirit of equality protection of incoming Anti-Discrimination Law.
Identoba, Georgia’s largest LGBT and gender equality protection NGO calls on all parties to speak up against proposed changes in Georgia’s Constitution.



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