Anti-discrimination law comes into effect today

President Giorgi Margvelashvili signed anti-discrimination bill into law. Photo by President's official website., 07 May 2014 - 17:06, Tbilisi,Georgia

The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili signed the Anti-Discrimination law today.

The "Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination" legislation went into force after it has been published on the state online registry Legislative Herald of Georgia on May 7.

On Wednesday Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili celebrated the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination law – a wide-ranging and progressive law aimed at prohibiting and preventing all forms of discrimination in Georgia.

This law was passed unanimously by Parliament on May 2. Officials said implementing this law was an important step forward in Georgia’s full European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Georgia’s new Anti-Discrimination law banned all discrimination by public and private entities on all grounds, including discrimination against a person’s gender, age, religion, language or ethnicity. It also prevented people to discriminate against those with a disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and political affiliation.

Prime Minister Garibashvili said: "Adoption of the Anti-Discrimination law is a part of the reform program that our Government is carrying out to strengthen the protection of human rights in Georgia.”

Since the election in October 2012, the Government of Georgia has undertaken a deep and comprehensive reform program to ensure democracy and equality before the law.

This included the creation of a Human Rights Strategy and Action Plan in collaboration with civil society stakeholders, the European Union and other international organizations.

"It is the Government’s duty to protect every citizen, no matter their differences,” Garibashvili said.

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for Human Rights and Gender Equality Tamar Chugoshvili said: "This new Bill takes our commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination in Georgia from paper to practice.

"Previous legislation, with rare exceptions, contained only declarative provisions without defining any legal consequences in case of violations. This Bill sets out the means for the redress of infringed rights and the provision of reparation.”

According to the Bill, in the instance of discrimination, the Public Defender should first provide a mediation service aimed at favouring an out-of-court settlement between parties.

If no such settlement is reached, the Public Defender can issue direct recommendations to individuals or organisations. Legal proceedings can ensure if these recommendations are judged unheeded, with the victim of discrimination having the right to seek reparation.

As a result of this law being implemented, Georgia has complied with EU suggestions and completed a major step in allowing for visa-free travel by Georgian citizens to the EU.

The Anti-Discrimination Bill was developed by the Ministry of Justice in close consultation with civil society and Georgia’s international partners, notably experts from the EU, Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR.