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No meeting between President and initiative group demanding marriage referendum

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, August 10
A meeting between the President and an initiative group demanding the conduct of a referendum on amending the constitution about the issue of marriage, that marriage is a unity of only man and a woman, will not take place, said the President's Parliamentary Secretary Ana Dolidze.

"The public is aware that the President was ready to meet the initiative group, however today they chose the language of confrontation and blackmail. They refused consultations, which clearly reveals that this is a group of narrow political objectives. Therefore, the agreed meeting will not take place," said Dolidze.

Prior to the planned meeting, Georgian non-governmental organizations (NGO) called for the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili not to approve of the referendum for a definition of marriage.

According to the NGOs, there is no need for this type of referendum.

“Georgia’s Civil Code already defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which is why we see no need making additional changes to the Constitution,” reads the statement.

The Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) has approved a bid to Margvelashvili to define marriage as a willing union between a man and a woman in the Constitution of Georgia earlier this month.

The CEC made its decision after campaigners collected more than 200, 000 signatures. However, Parliament has not approved the changes in the Constitution.

Margvelashvili has 30 days to make a decision concerning this issue. He either should support the proposed referendum or decline to hold it.

In the event that the President approves of the referendum, the Prime Minister of Georgia should then give it the go ahead.

The NGOs underlined that by raising the issue of defining marriage, the Georgian government is trying to direct people’s attention away from much more important political issues.

“Besides, approving such a definition in the constitution is wrong. It will encroach the rights of LGBT members of society and will increase homophobia,” reads the statement.

Meanwhile, member of the Georgian Dream (GD) Dimitri Khundadze thinks that conducting a referendum on the marriage issue will 'prevent fear from emerging in society'.

He said that the feeling that rights of sexual minorities are violated was artificially created in the country, which, in turn, led to the fear that same-sex marriage might be legalized.

According to Khundadze, no risk factors exist at the legislative level, but the government is obliged to dissolve the fear by making a relevant inscription in the constitution.