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President rejects referendum on defining marriage

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, August 11
The President of Georgia says that no referendum will take place in Georgia defining marriage in the Georgian Constitution as the unity of only a man and a woman.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has named two major reasons why he was against conducting the referendum, which was put forward by an initiative group composed of several people representing mainly non-parliamentary opposition parties.

The President said the occupation of 20 percent of Georgia's territory and current Georgian legislation encouraged him to reject the referendum, despite the fact that the initiative group managed to obtain more than the necessary 200,000 signatures to hold a referendum on the constitutional definition of marriage.

“Our legislation says that the referendum must cover whole territory of Georgia. I, as a guarantor of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, am obliged to first of all defend the country’s unity and sovereignty,” the President said.

“Since the Russia-Georgia war of 2008, Russia has recognised the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) as independent republics, and so conducting the referendum without the de-facto regions will give the occupant an additional legal argument,” Margvelashvili added.

As a second argument, the President stressed that Georgian legislation prohibited conducting referendums on legal issues.

Consequently, the President stressed that the Parliament of Georgia and no referendum must decide whether marriage would be defined as the unity of only man and a woman in the Constitution or not.

“Herewith, Georgian legislation already says that marriage is a voluntary unity of a man and a woman,” the President said.

The initiative group grilled the President for the statement today and said they would now launch the collection of signatures demanding the resignation of President Margvelashvili.

Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) addressed the President to discuss the initiative group’s appeal over the marriage definition on July 30 since the Group presented the necessary amount of signatures of the Georgian population.

The Republican Party and the United National Movement party said the President took the correct course of action, as some people were just speculating on the issue when marriage is already defined by Georgian legislation.

The President had 30 days to discuss the appeal. If the President accepted the initiative, his consent would have needed to be approved by the Prime Minister.

The last referendum in Georgia was held in 2003, which decreased the number of Georgian lawmakers from 250 to 150. At that time, the referendum was not also held in the de-facto independent regions, but the areas were then recognised as independent republics by Russia.