Presentation of the policy document, September 18, 2017. Photo: republicans.ge
The Republican Party, a non-parliamentary opposition party in Georgia, is planning to propose and lobby to the Parliament a bill allowing civil partnership, a legally recognized relationship between two people of the same sex, the party announced on September 18 at the presentation of its policy document “the Civil Contract on Partnership.”
The publication, funded by the Swedish International Liberal Center and developed in partnership with the Liberal Line, Tbilisi-based rights group, reviews the international practice of gay marriage regulations and lays out the party’s vision on the matter.
“Homophobic and transphobic sentiments, use of hate speech and facts of unequal treatment and violations of rights based on sexual orientation remain a challenge in Georgia: members of the LGBT community do not feel secure in exercising their rights, including right to education, employment, healthcare, etc.,” reads the document.
According to the publication, the government has failed to legally recognize the LGBT community and has taken “insufficient and tokenistic steps” for improving their rights. To address the problem, the Republican Party considers it necessary to bring their relations “within legal framework and allow the partners to enjoy legal rights and benefits.”
The party also believes that civil partnership should be introduced in the form of a new law and should regulate the inheritance and property transactions between the partners, but should not allow them to adopt children. The move, the document reads, “will be an important step for the country on its path to establishing a democratic state.” “European aspirations should not be an obsessive and unconscious idea: Europe stands for the protection of an individual rather than a group of individuals, and the Georgian state should adopt the internationally recognized contemporary standards and refuse to neglect the LGBT community members.”
The policy document came three days after the party presented Nino Bolkvadze, LGBT rights defender, as number seven on its party list for the Tbilisi City Council polls, making her the first openly gay candidate to run in Georgian elections.
The Republican Party told Civil.ge on September 21 that the legislative proposal on civil partnership is currently being elaborated, and that the party cannot say exactly when the bill will be presented to the Parliament.
Georgia’s civil code specifies that marriage is a “voluntary union of a man and a woman,” effectively banning same-sex marriage. Marriage will be explicitly defined as “a union between a woman and a man” in the new constitution as well, which is pending approval in late September.
The Republican Party, one of the junior members of the winning Georgian Dream coalition in the 2012 parliamentary elections, ran independently in 2016 and failed to enter the parliament with 1.55 percent of nationwide votes.
The failure to enter the parliament prompted departures of several senior party officials, including the party leader, former Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili, who is leading his newly-formed political party – the Development Movement – to the October 21 municipal polls.
The Republican Party formed an electoral coalition with another non-parliamentary opposition group – the Free Democrats, but the coalition appeared to be short-lived - the Free Democrats announced in early August that they would not run in the October 21 municipal elections, but would instead prepare for the 2020 parliamentary elections.
Since 2007, the Republican Party has been a full member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, liberal-democratic political family in Europe.