Council of Europe calls for action to protect Georgia’s LGBT community

Members of the Georgian Orthodox Church gather to protest a pro-LGBT march in Tbilisi, 2013
Members of the Georgian Orthodox Church gather to protest a pro-LGBT march in Tbilisi, 2013

The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner has this week called for greater action to be taken to protect LGBT individuals in Georgia after a series of threats was issued towards one of the country’s leading LGBT-support charities.

Irakli Vacharadze, director of the LGBT charity Identoba, was sent multiple threats of assault, rape and murder after comments he made in regards to the Georgian Orthodox Church were seen as anti-religious by some far-right groups.

The offices of the charity were also threatened by a number of individuals, which included those belonging to nationalist, Neo-Nazi and anti-LGBT groups.

Following news of the threats commissioner Nils Muižnieks shared his concerns for the situation in Georgia through his public Facebook page, in which he called upon authorities to give further protection to the LGBTI community.

The support was warmly welcomed by many in Georgia, but some members of the community are concerned that empty words and a lack of action from the European body may lead to the situation continuing to worsen or remain the same.

Various EU bodies have previously raised concerns over the level of homophobia and transphobia within Georgia but currently no action has been taken to pressure Georgian authorities into tackling the issue.

Homosexuality was legalised in Georgia in 2000 after the country began making moves to integrate into the European Union. As a potential member of the EU Georgia also brought in new laws offering protection against sexual and gender discrimination. These laws were widely criticised by the Georgian Orthodox Church, who are against LGBT rights.

In 2013 Identoba and several other groups organised a pro-diversity rally in the nation’s capital, which turned violent after several anti-LGBT protestors, led by church groups, attacked demonstrators. Following the attacks many human rights groups criticised Georgian authorities for supporting homophobia and transphobia by not doing enough to enforce anti-discrimination laws.


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