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Parliament assesses May 17 events

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, June 19
The Parliament Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee discussed the final report regarding the May 17, 2013 events when a clash between gay rights activists and a large number group of religious people took place in Tbilisi. According to the head of the Committee, Eka Beselia, 12, 000 individuals addressed the Human Rights’ Committee to discuss the issue.

Beselia stressed that based on the Georgian Constitution the rights of both sides– supporters and counter rally members were protected. However, the committee negatively assessed the violent actions committed by some religious people in the group.

“The committee's assessments do not oppose the statements made by the Catholics Patriarch of Georgia,” Beselia said.

The final assessment of the Parliament Committee consists of various parts. One of the parts is physical integrity. The report reads that the “physical offence of a sexual minority is not just a violation of a sexual minority member rights; it is a violation of the fundamental right of an individual's physical integrity and cannot have any positive assessment”.

The second part of the report concerns the right of assembly. The report reads that the both sides had the right of assembly and police did their best to avoid any violent developments of events. However, the committee appealed to the Interior Ministry to train policemen in using “soft” techniques during assemblies.

The report also highlights that the right of assembly “is one of the fundamental human rights, but not absolute.” The committee explains that right of assembly might be restricted if it threatens “moral, protection of others rights and in some other cases…”

The report states that through the Georgian constitution, assembly can be restricted “if it opposes other individuals’ rights, including religious rights.”

Based on the report, religious figures addressed the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office not to permit the assembly as it aimed at spreading "gay propaganda".

“According to religious rights, the Patriarchate had a right to demand this. It should be noted that part of the counter rally members were against marking the day of Homophobia as several Georgian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan those days,” the report reads.

The report stresses that the violation that took place against LGBT supporters was given adequate legal assessment, several individuals were charged, including 2 spirituals. The Interior Minister held a meeting with LGBT rights’ supporters and special contact figure with whom they will be able to contact in case of any violation against sexual minority members. The report reads that the violence was condemned by the Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II and high ranking state officials.

There were two individuals at the Committee meeting. According to them their names are in the list among those 12, 000. However, they state that they did not sign it. The Committee decided that authenticity of signatures will be rechecked.

Those Georgian citizens signed against violation of LGBT people critically assessed the statement made by Beselia. The common statement of the individuals read that Beselia’s words that “the report does not oppose the statement of Patriarch” is irresponsible and means setting the Patriarch above the constitution and human rights.

They also protested the fact that LGBT rights supporters and victims of the events did not participate in the sitting. They claim that the names of the two individuals are not in the list at all.

They reiterated that the supporters of LGBT were victims of violence.

Human Rights’ defender, Nana Kakabadze, stated Tbilisi Mayor’s office could avoid the confrontation if it changed the place of the demonstration. “However Mayor’s Office consciously let the LGBT supporters to hold meeting on Rustaveli Avenue,” Kakabadze said.