Legislative plans in Georgia: LGBTQ scene concerned about human rights

Status: 27.05.2024 15:20

Despite massive protests, the Georgian government is sticking to its “agent law.” The LGBTQ community is also expecting the worst. The reason is another law that would ban queer gatherings.

Beka Gabadadze has been attending most of the demonstrations in Tbilisi for weeks. Gabadadze is a man with a trimmed beard and a baseball cap on his shaved head. “I don’t think it’s about transparency,” he says. “It’s against democracy – against the media and civil society, against weaker social groups: including queers.”

Queer people – people whose gender identity does not correspond to the heterosexual norm, for example lesbians, gays and transsexuals (LGBTQ). Gabadadze advocates for them as a social worker and director of Temida. The NGO offers support in HIV prevention, job searches and offers shelter for queers who have problems with their families or experience violence.

He receives the money for this mainly from other European countries – which he also regularly discloses on the NGO’s website and to the tax office. But the new law, says Gabadadze, also aims to put an end to his work. “We will not register as they want us to,” he says. “We will simply stop our social services.”

“I was bullied and beaten up”

Gabadadze has been a social worker for almost nine years. He says he has done his best for the community. “I did the best for my country. I was bullied and beaten up. My best friends left the country, I carried on. But I will not do that anymore if I am called an agent. Then there will be no more Temida. That is a fact.”

The LGBTQ community could therefore be affected by the new law – and also by a second legislative initiative. It is somewhat overshadowed by the discussions about the recently passed “Transparency Law”: “It is a ‘law to protect traditional family values ​​and minors’,” says the social worker. The governing party also proposed it in March.

Prohibition of Gender reassignment

The bill proposes to ban sex reassignment surgery and to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children. “They want censorship,” says Gabadadze. “They want these sequences to be cut out of films with queer scenes.” The law should “ban queer gatherings that aim to ‘popularize’ same-sex relationships.” This includes pride parades, for example, as well as the reporting on them.

The social worker is convinced that it is about restricting the community’s freedom of expression. “This is fully in line with the legal system that already applies in Russia,” says Gabadadze. The relevant authorities in Russia classified the international LGBTQ movement as extremist last November.

Widespread homophobia

Critics believe that the regulations now proposed in Georgia were aimed at strengthening support among the conservative base for the ruling party and winning votes for the parliamentary elections in October.

Homophobia is widespread in Georgia, and any party that fuels these feelings is likely to gain support. “They use this fear to convince people to vote for them,” Gabadadze stresses. “And they do this by portraying themselves as supporters of family values. Which, again, is Putin’s style.”

A commission of experts from the Council of Europe recently called for the withdrawal of the new “Law on the Transparency of Foreign Influence”. It considers it to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. There had already been critical voices in the EU against the police using disproportionate means against demonstrators – with violence and arbitrary arrests.

Two days in prison without justification

LGBTQ activist and NGO founder Gabadadze was also taken away by the police after a demonstration. “I spent 48 hours in custody. They didn’t do anything physically to me, but they used swear words,” he says.

His lawyer does not yet know what charges are being brought against her client. She has not yet received anything from the police. “Such arrests are still taking place,” says Gabadadze. “And gangs are also on the move,” he says. “They lie in wait for people at home, beat them up – to generally instill fear in people, I think.”

Björn Blaschke, ARD Moscow currently Tbilisi / Georgia, tagesschau, 27.05.2024 13:24

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