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Anti-discrimination legislation faces steep opposition from Church

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 1
The anti-discrimination legislation, which is currently being discussed among Georgian society, has caused some heated debates. It has drawn a margin. On the one side, there is the Georgian Dream coalition together with its oppositional United National Movement, and on the other side – the Georgian Orthodox Church and some segments of the non-parliamentary opposition.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, no Georgian administration has ever confronted the Georgian Orthodox Church.

This draft of the anti-discrimination legislation was adopted on April 17 with the first reading.

As such, the Georgian parliament is in a hurry, because local elections have been scheduled for June 15 and Georgia has taken commitments to adopt this law before proceeding in the direction of the European Union.

During the first hearing, a draft of the anti-discrimination law was criticized by some representatives of clergy; whereas, before the second hearing, the Georgian patriarchate released its opinion loudly asking parliament to postpone the second hearing.

The major issue revolves around the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Georgian population is concerned about sexual orientation and to some degree, protecting the rights of those who differ sexually from others. However, on the other hand, they find it hard to accept the concept of one having a non-traditional sexuality from the standpoint of their traditional religious beliefs.

Georgian clergy considers homosexuality to be a deadly sin and that the anti-discrimination legislation acts as means of propaganda to encourage such non-traditional sexual relations.

The church demands that the EU respect the values and traditions of Georgia.

At the parliamentary committee hearing on April 29, MPs refused the patriarchate’s request to postpone the hearing of the draft law.

“I respect the Patriarch, but adoption of the legislation is the prerogative of the parliament,” one of the MPs said.

Georgian MPs have a narrow choice. One of them pointed out that this choice is between Europe and Russia. Represnetatives of clergy attending the discussion over the bill on Tuesday left the committee session in protest. They told the representatives of the Georgian Dream administration that the confrontation with the church could end up dear.

The situation in the Georgian politics is tense. The Georgian Dream administration, as well as the opposition UNM are ready to adopt the new legislation. However, this will result in a confrontation with the Georgia’s Orthodox society.

The Georgian people acknowledge the immense role the Christian Orthodox religion has played in Georgian history. People deeply believe that Georgia has preserved its national identity, language, and individuality through the strong support of the Orthodox religion.

People say that there is an alternative for Georgia - either Europe or Christian Orthodoxy. Such a position is very favorable for the pro-Russian forces in Georgia.