PM proposes to define "family” in Constitution

"Rtveli" (picking grapes) by Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani., 28 Mar 2014 - 17:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has proposed to define the ‘family’ as the "union of man and woman” in the Georgian Constitution.

Garibashvili insisted this change was necessary to avoid speculation and "wrong interpretation” of the marriage concept, while the EU strongly advised Georgia to adopt anti-discrimination laws. The anti-discrimination draft law was approved by the Georgian Government at today's session and it will be presented to the Parliament for further discussions in the nearest future.

"I would like to stress that the law does not create any new right for anyone. It does not grant any type of privilegies to any group of society, neither takes away. The law only ensures that all could equally enjoy the rights which are ensured by Georgian legislation and the Constitution," Garibashvili stated. 

The Georgian Constitution does not say anything about family but defines marriage and states that "marriage is based upon spouses' equality of right and free will". Also, the Article 1106 of the Georgian Civil Code says that "Marriage is a voluntary union of a man and woman with the aim to start a family".

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Country Progress Report 2013 for Georgia, published today, included a major recommendation that Georgia immediately adopt an anti-discrimination law in what would become a prerequisite for finalizing the Visa Liberalization Action Plan.

The report stated: "On the basis of this year’s report and with a view to sustain implementation of the ENP Action Plan in 2014, Georgia is invited to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation; ensure that the rights of people belonging to minorities, including religious minorities, are respected. Condemn instances of hate speech, attacks and violence against persons belonging to minorities; send clear messages of zero tolerance towards such behaviour," reads the report.

Garibashvili stressed similar definitions to the one proposed by him existed on an international level.

"Latvia did this, Croatia did this last year, just before joining the European Union,” Garibashvili stated at a Government session today.

He also noted this definition already existed in Georgian law but it was not mentioned in the Constitution. Here PM was reffering to the above mentioned Article about marriage in the Georgian Civil Code. Garibashvili was sure this change would not be targeted to discriminate any groups of people and did not contradict the proposed anti-discrimination draft law.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary opposition and the non-governmental organisation sector criticized Garibashvili for his proposal.

The major objective for them was that Georgian legislation does already contain the definition similar to the one proposed by the PM.

"I do not understand why this topic is that important in a given moment when there are many more problems that are more acute," said Chairman of the Young Lawyers' Association of Georgia, Kakha Kozhoridze, to Georgian Public Broadcaster today.

While presenting the report today, head of the EU delegation to Georgia Philip Dimitrov once again underlined that legalization of same-sex marriage had never had been a prerequisite or obligation for a country to become a member of the EU.

"There are 28 member states in the EU and definitions in those countries do not always coincide," Dimitrov said.

He said European Union does not determine people's interests and inclinations but it adheres to the principle that everyone should have the freedom own choice and absolute respect.

"In order to protect the peoples' choice, be it sexual orientation, or political views. Individuals must have the opportunity to express their views on this issues and we do not accept any form of intolerance," Dimitrov said.