MDF Report on Sexist Language and Gender Disinformation in Georgia

On April 5,  the Media Development Foundation (MDF), a media watchdog, presented a report on Sexist Language and Gender Disinformation in Georgia, covering the period from January 1 to December 31, 2023.

The report is based on data collected through both selected traditional (7 TV channels, 3 print publications, and 3 online publications) and social media (151 Facebook accounts) monitoring, which aimed to identify topics, sources, targets of gender-based discrimination and stereotyping, terminology used, and types of violations.

MDF’s report was supported by the USAID-funded “Unity through Diversity” program, administered by the UN Association of Georgia, which is a parent CSO of

The research found 5,695 cases of sexist and homophobic statements during the reporting period and found that “the most apparent manifestations” of sexist and homophobic hate speech in 2023 were linked to politically turbulent periods in Georgia, such as the March protests against the Russian law, the Pride Week, and in November and December the same year when the political temperature around Georgia’s EU candidacy was particularly high.

Sexist Hate Speech/Gender Stereotyping and Homophobia

Most of the hate speech, both in traditional and social media, was mainly directed against the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, as well as female opposition politicians, human rights defenders, and activists. Former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, was one of the primary targets of sexist abuse.

Source: MDF Report

According to the report, when it comes to anti-feminist/misogynist hate speech, comments were predominantly voiced by the pro-Kremlin parties (Conservative Movement, Alliance of Patriots), media outlets (Sezoni TV), and the clergy. “Feminism was depicted as a phenomenon that is being imposed by the West, which, based on selfish motives, is aimed at the oppression of men and the destruction of families. The issue of feminism was manipulatively linked to European integration, in particular, and the process of granting of the candidate status to Georgia”.

Source: MDF Report

As for homophobia, the report found that the main source of homophobic content was the traditional media (31.7%), followed by politicians (30.8%). Social media (10.5%), public (9.8%), clergy (9.5%), and public organizations (7.7%) were found to be spreading homophobic content less. The homophobic statements were linked to “anti-discrimination law, domestic violence legislation, the proposed ban on Pride propaganda, and EU candidate status.”

Gendered Disinformation

According to the report, In 2023, the research identified 62 cases of gendered disinformation, 37 of which were homophobic, while 25 were sexist or contained signs of attacks on women based on moral criteria. “The majority of gendered disinformation cases were directed against the West (27) and were predominantly homophobic (18). In terms of gendered disinformation against Ukraine (10), similarly,
most cases (7) were also of homophobic content”.

As for the typology, the research revealed that visual manipulation was the most common tactic, accounting for 54.8% of cases. This included 22 photo fabrication/manipulation and 12 cases of video manipulation/fabrication cases. Non-visual forms of disinformation were employed in 21 cases, while manipulation occurred in 3 cases, and fabricated quotes were detected in 2 cases.

Source: MDF Report

During the reporting period, the most frequent targets of the gendered disinformation included Georgian and foreign politicians and people related to them as well as critical journalists. The targets included former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s mother, Giuli Alasania, U.S Ambassador to Georgia Robin Dunnigan in one case, the Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, Estonian PM Kaja Kallas, former Finnish PM Sanna Marin, MEP Viola Von Cramon. The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, was the target of “slut-shaming.”

Mobilization for the Protection of Identity, Values, Institution of Family and Children

The monitoring identified four topics, “the protection of which was utilized as a pretext by anti-liberal groups to mobilize society.” During the analysis of 1,936 comments, the most prevalent topic discussed was identity protection, constituting 40.6% of the comments. Discussions on protecting values (23.4%) and children (21.7%) followed closely, with nearly equal representation. Additionally, comments aimed at mobilizing the community to protect the institution of family comprised 14.4% of the analyzed comments.

Source: MDF Report

Identity-related discussions predominated by portraying the West as imposing homosexuality and depravity on Georgia, threatening traditional identity. “During the discussion of the Russian-style law on foreign agents, both government officials and pro-Kremlin and conservative actors linked foreign funding to the goals of fighting against traditional identity.”

According to the report, European integration, seeking the EU candidate status, and embracing pro-Westernism or liberalism were linked to a perceived erosion of national identity, while Russia was depicted as a protector of identity.

As for the protection of children, among the 420 identified messages, the majority (93) were related to the purported need to shield them from promiscuity and preserve their gender identity. Additionally, 58 messages equated teaching sex or civic education in schools with the promotion of depravity.

Messages around the protection of the family institution concerned abortion, which was depicted as a murder and a sin, holding the women responsible for it. “Messages about family being a unity of a man and a woman were largely linked to the participation of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, in the conference of American ultraconservatives in Hungary, during which the rhetoric of “family protection” was based on manipulation of homophobic topics.”

Regarding values, out of the 453 values-related comments, the most prevalent message (138) emphasized the incompatibility of homosexuality or its support with traditional values. “The West and the process of European integration were associated with imposed foreign values and the loss of traditional ones. Statements about the need to end liberal fascism and ideology were also observed”.

Also Read:


Back to top button