Family-Values Day and Anti-Homophobia Day being marked in Georgia

To mark the day of "Strength of Family and Respect for Parents" part of people plan to organize a demonstration on Rustaveli Avenue., 17 May 2014 - 05:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Two events are taking place in Georgia today: the Orthodox Church has launched a new day of "Family Strength and Respect for Parents" while today is also International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

On this day last year thousands of people were involved in a violent clash in central Tbilisi where IDAHO supporters were physically attacked and forced to end their peaceful demonstration.

This year, to avoid a confrontation between supports and opposition of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement, the non-governmental organization behind the peaceful protest last year, Identoba, stated they would not hold a public demonstration.

Last year IDAHO supporters gathered at Freedom Square were violently disrupted by thousands of counter-demonstrators, including some Orthodox clergy.

Meanwhile anti-IDAHO groups are making their voices heard today.

The Union of the Genus Leaders of Georgia and several other organisation planned to hold a rally on Rustaveli Ave at 10 am today in demand for "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to be removed from the Anti-Discrimination law, recently adopted by the Georgian Government.

The group are also demanding a law is adopted to prohibit "direct or indirect LGBT propaganda.

The Georgian Government were required to implement the Anti-Discrimination law under the Visa Liberalization Action Plan, which the country must follow to ensure Georgian citizens are granted with a short-term visa-free regime by the EU.

Not adopting this law could also inhibit Georgia’s plans of EU integration.

Meanwhile the Patriarchate called on anti-IDAHO demonstrators not to be violent against IDAHO supporters.

In a statement released yesterday, the Patriarchate said even though "unnatural and perverted relationships” were unacceptable for the church, it would not fight against "sin affected” people.

"On the contrary, the Church cares for them and seeks to improve them,” the statement read.

"The church denounces sin and struggles against it and public propaganda. As we know some groups of believers are going to hold a public rally. We appeal to them with respect and call on them for their processions to be peaceful since the Church is against any violence.”

The Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili said he would be closely monitoring the situation in Georgia today to ensure nobody faced discrimination, regardless of their sexual preference.

"Despite the fact Georgian legislation is not discriminatory towards LGBT persons, its practical enforcement does not ensure adequate legal guarantees.

"Acts of discrimination of LGBT persons in labour, health, social and economic relations are quite frequent. They suffer violence and face unequal treatment in different areas of their life, in families and communities," Nanuashvili said.

He added homophobic attitudes among the public still remained "a challenge” and often resulted in hate crimes and other discriminatory activities.

"Events for 17 May 2013 clearly showed us that LGBT persons and their supporter NGOs were unable to fully exercise their constitutional right to freedom to assembly. Furthermore, a hatred motivated physical violence were detected as well.”

"A year has passed since the last events, however unfortunately there has been no legal consequence for the violations, and furthermore no one has been punished for the commitment of physical abuse," the Public Defender stated.

He appealed to stakeholders to enhance collaboration with the community to eliminate and prevent current homophobic attitudes and practices, as well as to conduct a timely, effective and accountable investigation of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents.