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CSOs, Foreign Diplomats on the International Day against Homophobia

A group of Tbilisi-based foreign ambassadors issued a joint statement on May 17, on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, expressing their support for and solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community in Georgia.

The diplomats said they laud Georgia’s legal commitments to respect the rights of persons belonging to minorities. They also said “some progress” has been noted in recent years in expanding human rights protections, but highlighted that the everyday reality for the LGBTQI+ community in Georgia, is that “these guarantees largely remain on paper.”

  • The joint statement was issued by the United Nations Resident Coordinator; the Ambassadors of the European Union (EU), Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; the Head of Mission of the United States; and the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia.

“LGBTQI+ persons face discrimination, hate speech, and physical abuse, which violate their rights, deprive them of dignity, and push them to the margins of society,” the diplomats also said, adding that this runs “counter to Georgia’s tradition of tolerance.”

“Cultural, religious and moral beliefs – even if held by a majority – can never be an excuse for tolerating human rights violations,” they also noted, calling on the authorities “to take resolute action to ensure that the equality guaranteed in law is realized in practice, so that every person in the country, including LGBTQI+ persons, can exercise their rights.”

CSO statements

IDAHOT-related statements were issued by local civil society organizations as well.

The “No to Phobia! campaign,” a platform uniting a dozen non-governmental organizations, said members of the LGBTQI community in Georgia are facing multitude of problems, but the government’s response has been inadequate and sporadic.

“The government does not have a systemic vision, which would ensure inclusion of the LGBTQI community, protect equality, prevent violence and improve their standards of living as well as the public awareness [about them],” the statement reads.

Similar messages were voiced by the Coalition for Equality, a group of nine civil society organizations, which said the LGBTQI community in Georgia has been deprived of their fundamental rights.

“Year-after-year, attacks on homophobic and transphobic grounds have been on the rise in the period of May 17; this year too, this creates risks of escalation,” the organizations said.

The Coalition also noted that “oftentimes, the practice of violence and rights violations are not recognized by the government, which aggravates the existing homophobic political and social environment.”

It also said in recent years some important legal mechanisms have been introduced, but “systemic” problems in the fields of education, social support and healthcare have not been addressed, leaving “the everyday reality of the LGBTQI community unchanged.”

On May 17, 2013, several thousand protesters, backed by radical Orthodox clergy, violently assaulted the attempted IDAHOT rally. A year later, the Orthodox Church declared May 17 as the Family Purity Day, in an apparent attempt to counter the IDAHOT celebrations. Gay rights groups have since been unable to mark the day freely.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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