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Ombudsman Slams CDM's 'Homophobic' Remarks, Proposal

25.05.2012

Civil Georgia

Public Defender, Giorgi Tugushi, said a proposal by lawmakers from Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) to amend constitution to, as sponsors of the bill say, “protect morality”, was “absolutely inadmissible.”

Tugushi said that remarks by CDM lawmakers were “no less worrisome than the proposed” constitutional amendments.

CDM leader MP Giorgi Targamadze said while speaking about his party’s proposal at the parliamentary session on May 22, that the goal of gay activists “is legal and moral legalization of homosexuality, indecency, depravity and perverted way of life.”

The Public Defender said such remarks of “homophobic nature” were contributing “to the establishment of incorrect stereotypes in the society and encouraging discrimination.”

“Unfortunately, a part of their statements contained hate speech, which, in my opinion, encourages stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes in the society,” the Public Defender said in a statement on May 22.

Among the CDM’s proposals are to further stress the role of Christianity in the constitution; to ban “sexually immoral persons” from taking public offices; to restrict statements containing “propaganda of indecency” and insult of “religious principles”; to add a clause to the constitution according to which the state will recognize and protect that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“This [proposal] is not an expression of hatred towards these people [sexual minorities]; we hate the sin, not these people; I have pity on them,” MP Targamadze, leader of CDM, said on May 22.

CDM’s Initiative

Following a march of gay activists in Tbilisi, which was thwarted by an Orthodox group on May 17, lawmakers from the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), called for constitutional amendments in order to deter, as they put it, propaganda of “homosexuality and indecency.”  

CDM’s leader MP Giorgi Targamadze said that for next four months CDM would be gathering signatures of Georgian citizens in order to formally initiate proposed constitutional amendments; that means that the proposal is not likely to be discussed by sitting Parliament, as parliamentary elections are scheduled for October.

Due to election regime of the work, it is less likely that current parliament will discuss the CDM’s initiative which needs support of 200 000 citizens to be initiated at the legislative body.

“We condemn any form of violence no matter who is a perpetrator,” MP Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of CDM and of a small parliamentary minority group said, referring to a fist-fight that broke on May 17 after an Orthodox group blocked gay activists’ march.

“But at the same time we are against of portraying it [this march] as a harmless stroll by representatives of sexual minority or by thier supporters,” MP Targamadze said.

He said that the march itself was not “an eventual goal” of gay activists, adding that their “eventual goal is legal and moral legalization of homosexuality, indecency and wrong way of life.”

MP Targamadze said that in “some countries homosexuals are holding top level government posts and the right of same sex marriage is constitutionally guaranteed.” He said that this “example of some European states cannot serve as a guide for us.”

“We live in Georgia – the country where fortunately traditional values are still strong and where over 80% of the population states that they are Christians and where over 7% of the population says they are Muslims… We believe that the Georgian legislations and the constitution should reflect values, which are valuable for the multi-ethnic society of this country,” he said.

“We are not fighting against anyone, we are protecting our traditional way of life,” MP Targamadze said.

CDM MP Nika Laliashvili told Civil.ge that his party’s proposal for constitutional amendments would involve several points: to further stress the role of Christianity in the constitution (the role of Orthodox Christian Church is already defined by a constitutional agreement between the state and the Church); introducing “moral criteria” that should be met by persons holding government posts; ban on disseminating such information that can be “insulting for a person’s religious feelings”; to add a clause to the constitution according to which the state will “recognize and protect” that marriage is between a man and a woman.

In a response to these remarks, a ruling party MP Lasha Tordia said it was “very regrettable that from this high parliamentary rostrum a lawmaker makes statements, which in fact fuel strife between certain members of the society.”

“I was expecting you to make a call for being tolerant and to say that what happened on May 17 [fist-fight during the gay activists’ march] was immoral and unacceptable for everyone who stands for the principle of building democratic state.”

In a response lawmaker from CDM, Nika Laliashvili, told the ruling party MP to stop portraying CDM’s proposals and statement by its leader “as if we are supporting beating of someone” or as if CDM’s proposed constitutional amendments were encouraging hatred.

“To say the truth I did not expect that those who held gay march in Tbilisi streets would have such supporters,” Laliashvili said in response to MP Tordia’s remarks. “These groups are violently trying to impose their indecent ideology on the rest of the Georgian society.”

The debates were held in response to last week events in Tbilisi. The first-ever march of a small group of rainbow flag-waving gay activists in downtown Tbilisi ended in a scuffle with an Orthodox group, which blocked activists' way not allowing them to continue procession on May 17.Few dozen of gay activists, gathered outside the Tbilisi State Concert Hall (Philharmonic Hall) to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. They started marching towards the Rustaveli Avenue, but before reaching the avenue the participants of the march were stopped by a group of men, some of them Orthodox priests, associated with an organization known as Union of Orthodox Christian Parents.

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