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Candidate Taken to Court over Homophobic Remarks

Court refused on May 25 an appeal by election watchdog group to suspend a majoritarian candidate for Tbilisi City Council membership from opposition Freedom Party to stand in the May 30 local elections.

The case, what appeared to be the first of this type, involved homophobic remarks made by the candidate on his Facebook page.

Tbilisi-based legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), which is monitoring elections, filed against Lado Sadgobelashvili, running in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda single-mandate constituency, who posted last week on his Facebook wall messages like “Georgia without sexual minorities” and “days of homosexuals in Georgia is counted”.

GYLA claimed that Sadgobelashvili violated paragraph 2 of article 75 of the election code, which reads: “The election program must not contain propaganda of war and violence, of overthrowing the existing state and social system or replacing it through violence, of violating the territorial integrity of Georgia, of calling to foster hatred and enmity, religious and ethnic confrontation.”

GYLA deemed that the candidate’s Facebook messages contained propaganda of violence and hatred, which should have been resulted in suspension of the candidate. The Tbilisi City Court rejected GYLA’s arguments.

“It does not matter what the court ruling will be,” candidate Lado Sadgobelashvili, 24, told journalists before the court hearing on May 25. “The most important for me is protection of Orthodox Christian values.”

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