A candidate for Supreme Court judge, Nona Todua, said at a parliamentary committee hearing on April 7 that she thinks homosexuality is a “flaw” and added that she feels sorry for sexual minorities because of having such “deviation.”
Todua, who is in favor of liberalisation of the criminal code and who spoke in support of the Constitutional Court’s ruling banning imprisonment for purchasing and possessing up to 70 grams of marijuana for personal use, was nominated in late March for the Supreme Court judge by President Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The nomination of Todua, who has spent most of her career in legal academia, was criticized by the Coalition for Independent and Transparent Judiciary, a group uniting dozens of non-governmental organizations; the group criticized the nomination in a joint statement on April 1 because of “homophobic attitudes” expressed by Todua previously in one of her academic works published in 2011.
When asked on the issue by a civil society activist at the parliamentary committee hearing on April 7, Todua responded that there are homosexuals among her students and added: “I love them very much.”
“But I feel sorry for them because of such deviation,” Todua continued. “Every parson has a flaw; I have mine and they [homosexuals] have their flaws and that [being a homosexual] is their flaw. It will be good if they realize it, but that’s a moral issue. It has nothing to do with judge’s [work]. If I have to [adjudicate] a case involving their discrimination – for example such a person was beaten up because of [his or her] sexual orientation, will I rule that beating of that person was a good thing to do?.. Even the religion, not just law, acknowledges that they [sexual minorities] should not be discriminated. When deciding on a specific case I should be guided by justice and not by my personal moral views. There are no flawless persons. The question was why I think that it [homosexuality] is a flaw – because cultural norms deem it to be such; it’s not just my personal opinion, majority of the world population think that it’s against cultural norms.”
“On the question whether sexual minorities have the right to express their position [through rally and demonstration] – if they think that they are discriminated, of course they have the [right] to march; that’s the constitutional right. But if they are not discriminated and their goal is to simply advertize their way of life – that’s bad. But the state should in any way provide for protection of their rights and security. So when a person advertises something that is not moral, that’s bad for the society, but they have the right to rally… and call on the people to join their way of life. If someone heeds their calls, it’s a problem of that particular person. It is the obligation of the authorities to protect them [sexual minorities] from any type of pressure,” she added.
Commenting on Todua’s remarks, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee for human rights, GD MP Gedevan Popkhadze, said: “I do not think that that there was anything homophobic in her remarks.”
Asked on recent controversial appointments of judges by the High Council of Justice, in particular re-appointment of Levan Murusidze, Todua responded that she would not have supported this decision if she had been a member of HCoJ.
Also on April 7, the parliamentary committee for legal affairs heard another candidate for the Supreme Court judge, Tamar Laliashvili, also nominated by the President.
None of the candidates received enough votes of committee members to be endorsed by the legal affairs committee – Todua had 5 votes to 4 and Laliashvili 6 votes to 4. It, however, does not prevent nominations to be discussed and voted at a parliamentary session.
In February, President Giorgi Margvelashvili named incumbent deputy defense minister, Anna Dolidze, as a candidate for a third vacant seat in the Supreme Court. The Parliament has not yet voted on Dolidze’s nomination.