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Insulting Religious Feelings May Become Punishable

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, April 25
Georgian Parliament is working on the draft law, according to which, insulting others’ religious feelings might become punishable.

The draft author is Emzar Kvitsiani, member of the parliamentary opposition party the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia (APG), which is often regarded as the Russian lobbyist party in Georgia.

According to the potential amendments, offenders of religious feelings will be fined or might even face criminal liability.

Ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) supports the initiative and believes that the facts of abusing religious feelings have become frequent lately.

Sopio Kiladze, the Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament, believes that it is necessary to introduce punishment for offending people on religious grounds.

“Insulting each other’s religion and inner faith is unacceptable. That is why I support regulation of this field," Kiladze said.

She added that Georgia has always been tolerant to other religions and it will continue.

“We are proud of the fact that for centuries our country was an example of tolerance, respect and love, of different religions. Many religions have coexisted here with love and respect side by side,” she said.

Majority member, Anri Okhanashvili agrees with Kiladze, however, he believes that an in-depth survey and consultations on this issue are necessary.

In late March, the Patriarchate of Georgia’s Orthodox Church called for protection of religious feelings, condemning the joke by an opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV journalist, Giorgi Gabunia about Jesus Christ.

The Georgian Orthodox Church also criticized Georgian brand of condoms AIISA, some of them wrapped in packets depicting Georgian King and Saint Tamar.

The Patriarchate believes Gabunia and AIISA insulted religious feelings, calling their actions “blasphemy.”

The statement released by the Patriarchate says that freedom of expression is one of the most valuable components of democracy and protection of human rights, adding this is “directly linked with responsibility and respect to protecting rights of the others.”