CSOs Call for “Equality and Inclusiveness” in Government Policy to Combat Homophobia

A group of seven local civil society organizations, among them Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) and Equality Movement called on the government to prevent calls for violence and pursue “a policy of equality and inclusiveness.”

In a statement released on Monday concerning the June 14 and June 16 rallies held by clerics and hate groups against LGBTQI people, the CSOs said that “despite the tendency of anti-democratic groups getting stronger and better organized, the government had not taken adequate measures to prevent radicalization of such political ideas and groups. In some cases, certain doubts emerged about the government’s loyalty towards them.”

The group also noted that the majority of leaders, including businessman Levan Vasadze and others, “are openly linked to Russian political elite, while their interest in gaining political power and influences is evident.”

According to the statement, emergence of ultraconservative ideas and homo/bi/transphobia violence has been encouraged by extreme poverty, economic inequality, fragile democracy and deep political and social polarization, on the one hand, and by the government neglect towards the rights and needs of LGBTQI people on the other. CSOs said the “ruling political group” has repeatedly instrumentalised homophobia for political gain.

The local CSOs called on the government “to realize its own responsibility in the present social crisis and take effective measures for pursuing policy based on equality and inclusion.”

“It is essential that political parties and the Patriarchate understand their own responsibility in this process,” the statement reads.  

They also called on the government, the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office to ensure that the investigation launched into the plans and actions of radical groups “is real and effective” and that security and rights of LGBTQI people are protected. They also called upon the government to take effective measures for combating homo/bi/transphobia.

Tbilisi Pride, uniting LGBTQ and human rights activists, plans to hold the Pride Week on June 18-23, involving various social, cultural and political events, including the Pride Parade.

On June 14, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate issued a statement, calling Tbilisi Pride of June 18-23 “absolutely unacceptable” and a “sodomite sin”, calling on the government “not to allow” it.

In response to the Patriarchate’s statement, LGBTQI rights activists and radical groups held counter rallies. On June 16, homophobic groups led by Levan Vasadze held another rally and announced about formation of the vigilante patrols against Tbilisi Pride and gay individuals.

On June 17, the Interior Ministry launched investigation over Levan Vasadze’s statement during June 16 rally.

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