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CSOs demand resignation of Tea Tsulukiani, June 12, 2018. Photo: Screenshot from RFERL video

Justice Minister Under Fire Over ‘Transphobic’ Statements

A group of LGBT rights organizations, including the Equality Movement and the Women’s Movement, have joined the civil society organizations’ calls for Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani’s resignation.

The rights groups’ announcement follows the controversial remarks of Minister Tsulukiani last Sunday. Speaking to Imedi TV on June 10, Tsulukiani said the CSOs were voicing an “ultimatum” for her resignation since she did not meet their earlier demands for allowing a gender designation change in the identification documents.

“The CSOs have been asking me to register a person with male organs as female, and a person with female biological organs – as male, and I admit that I have not carried this reform,” Tsulukiani noted then, adding that “a whole set of legal, medical and other psychosocial issues need to be discussed before such reform is implemented, if it is to be implemented at all.”

The LGBT rights organizations convened a press briefing on the matter today, saying Tsulukiani’s remarks were “transphobic” and “offensive” for the LGBT community, as well as “political populism” to “appease the transphobic voters.”

“We would like to remind the Justice Minister that it is the responsibility of the authorities to increase awareness and sensitivity about the LGBT community,” the organizations said, calling on the authorities to replace Tsulukiani with someone who “will respect the rights of every individual, and will be sensitive towards the LGBT people, as well as the problems of other marginalized groups.”

The Coalition for Equality, which unites eight leading Georgian human rights organizations, released a statement as well, saying Tsulukiani’s remarks were “extremely alarming” as they “reinforced the societal stigmas against transgender persons and encouraged their further marginalization.”

The country’s civil acts law allows for a gender designation change, but only if a claimant undergoes gender reassignment surgery and presents a relevant medical record to the Justice Ministry. Gay rights groups have been campaigning against the practice and calling for allowing the change based the gender dysphoria diagnosis, a medical document that can be obtained from psychiatrists.

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