Tugushi: Proposed constitutional changes discriminatory
By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, May 24Georgian Ombudsman Giorgi Tugushi criticized the Christian Democrats’ initiative to amend the constitution to “protect morality”, considering it “absolutely inadmissible”.
Tugushi said that remarks by CDM lawmakers were “no less worrisome than the proposed” constitutional amendments.
CDM proposals also referred to the role of Christianity in the Georgian constitution; to ban “sexually immoral persons” from taking public offices; to restrict statements of “propaganda of indecency” and insult of “religious principles”; to add a clause to the constitution according to which the state will recognize and protect that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Such statements “fraught with homophobic spirit” that equate homosexuality with “depravity, perversity and a distorted way of life” Tugushi said, especially against the backdrop of the events that took place during the International Day against Homophobia, are contributing “to the establishment of wrong stereotypes in society and encouraging discrimination.”
“Unfortunately, a part of their statements contained hate speech, which, in my opinion, encourages stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes in society… It creates a danger that sexual minorities may be insulted and ostracized from society” the public defender said.
In his statement Tugushi noted that representatives of the legislative body not only bear the responsibility taken with the mandate, but also a high moral responsibility towards society. “I consider it unacceptable for MPs to use expressions that insult any member of our society and portray [them] as unequal in relation to other citizens,” he said.
“I would also like to remind everyone once again that the Constitution of Georgia has been and remains the foremost guarantee of the equality of rights in our state. I call upon every political force, individual politician, and civil society to be particularly attentive and careful, so that expressions that are discriminatory in any sense and hate speech are not spread by or through them in the future,” said Tugushi.
“We think that the statement made by Giorgi Targamadze is unconstitutional, which undermines the rights of not only sexual but also religious minorities, as in Targamadze’s draft amendment the word ‘Christian’ was mentioned as well. Such statements aimed to be liked by the majority, meanwhile undermining the rights of minority groups which are a part of our society with the same rights,” Natia Gvianishvili, Public Relation Manager of Identoba said.
Targadamdze, in his remarks however, noted that his proposal was not an expression of hate speech.
“This is not an expression of hatred towards these people; we hate the sin, not these people; I have pity on them,” MP Targamadze, leader of CDM, said on May 22
The party’s Leader, MP Giorgi Targamadze remarked while speaking about his party’s proposal at the parliamentary session on May 22, that gay activists’ aim “is the legal and moral legalization of homosexuality, indecency, depravity and a perverted way of life.”
The Christian-Democrats proposed a package of legislative changes and amendments to the Constitution of Georgia which envisages imposing certain restrictions on the exercise of several rights recognized by the Constitution.
CDM said it would be gathering signatures of Georgian citizens in order to formally initiate the proposed constitutional amendments for the next four months. That means that the proposal is less-likely to be discussed by the sitting parliament, as parliamentary elections are scheduled for October.