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Anti-discrimination bill to be amended

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 30
Some changes will be carried out in the anti-discrimination bill. After carrying out the changes the bill will be presented to the Parliament for discussion. Presumably, voting on the bill will take place on Friday.

The bureau meeting that was held in parliament on April 29 resulted in heated discussion over the issue. The Orthodox Church and non-parliamentary opposition members requested that they postpone the discussion until it the bill is agreed on by the Patriarchate. According to them, the patriarchate represents the majority of the Georgian population.

Though the bill has no hidden agenda with regard to sexual orientation, the priests believe that the bill runs contrary to Georgian values and aims at “legalizing LGBT” activities.

Father Davit Lasurashvili stressed that minority rights are not violated in the country and there are no cases of discrimination. He also stressed that if people knew that the new government would adopt such a law, they would not have voted for the coalition. The priest emphasized that if the bill is adopted as it is now, Georgia will lose its means of communicating with those living in the occupied regions, as people living there respect “traditions” and will not want to be part of a country that supports LGBT people.

The majority representatives claim that the there is nothing immoral in the bill. Moreover, coalition MP Manana Kobakhidze states that in the case that in the future the law somehow results in the legalization of LGBT marriages, she is ready to deny her mandate. Fellow coalition MP, Eka Beselia states that the Patriarchate plays a serious role in Georgian rights and the Patriarchate’s remarks are precious to the government. She stressed that some changes will be carried out in the bill, including some changes that are requested by the Patriarchate.

However, the majority is not unanimous over the issue. Tamar Kordzaia, the coalition MP, states that there is evident pressure being put on the Parliament from the church

Parliament Chair of Georgia Davit Usupashvili has stated that the anti-discrimination bill is about making a choice between Russia and Europe. Therefore the Parliament will make its decision based on what’s best for the country.

United National Movement member, Zurab Japaridze, states that the minority will support the bill during the second reading. According to him, the Public Defender should have a right to address the court in the case his recommendation towards an offender is not taken into account.

Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, thinks that that the church’s demands over removing some points from the bill should not be taken into account. He states that the defender should have more financial support from the budget to carry out effective anti-discrimination actions.

Head of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, states that there is nothing new in the bill that is not written in the constitution. She states that the government should have informed the public more regarding the bill. Gigauri states that the Public Defender should have real levers, like involvement through the court, in cases of discrimination.

Adoption of this legislation is one of the requirements that Georgia has undertaken to meet its obligations for the EU’s visa liberalization action plan in order to be granted short-term visa-free travel to the EU. However, the NGOs claim that the initial version of the draft significantly differed from the version presented previously. The NGOs claim that the draft lacked major points, such as having an inspector for protection of equality, specifically for the purpose of overseeing the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation. The government stated that the function would be fulfilled by the Public Defender.