Georgia isn’t Russia, but it’s not the UK, France or Spain either. So as one gay lawyer calls on the Constitutional Court to legalize same-sex marriage in the Eastern European country, others in the LGBTI community are more concerned about not being assaulted in the street on a daily basis.
Giorgi Tatishvili has filed an appeal with Georgia’s Constitutional Court. He believes the Civil Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is not consistent with the constitution that defines marriage in gender-neutral terms.
He says he has ‘started the fight for the legalization of same-sex marriages and expects a positive decision by the Constitutional Court of Georgia’.
Georgia is a country where Pride parades fall victim to thousands of homophobic thugs rallying to attack LGBTI people thanks to the homophobic and powerful Orthodox Church.
The former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has threatened twice to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
The wider LGBTI rights community believe Tatishvili could be something like a maverick, operating outside of the community, and is unaware of the wider implications of fighting for same-sex marriage in a country where 91.5% of the public believe homosexuality is ‘completely unacceptable’.
Natia Gvianishili, a lesbian member of the LGBTI rights supporting Women’s Initiative Support Group, has said both threats from the former Prime Minister came when same-sex marriage was not an actual issue – but obliquely mentioned.
The last time was when the anti-discrimination law included sexual orientation and gender identity in 2014 and when the US Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriage in 2013. If something like that can spark ‘hysteria’, she believes, then an actual campaign calling for same-sex marriage could have a very opposite result.
‘When [Garibashvili] threatened to ban same-sex marriage, it calmed everyone down. Banning LGBTI rights is always a popular way of mobilizing the electorate and any campaign for marriage could result in further restrictions on the community,’ she told Gay Star News.
Gvianishili believes LGBTI Georgians need to concentrate on working with the police to tackle hate crime, allowing trans people to get a gender recognition certificate and other practical issues. She hopes Georgia can continue moving towards the West and away from Russia, as is the current trend.
‘Marriage and civil partnerships are not on our agenda because of the high politicization of the issue. We’re trying to affect public opinion on LGBTI issues, trying to turn it positive from negative. But marriage is an issue that is hugely against us, and we can’t see how we can address this issue so it doesn’t get worse for LGBTI people.
‘I’m lesbian myself and I can relate to this. Right now, unfortunately, the community agrees it’s not the right time. Right now, people care about not being assaulted in the street. Marriage can come later.’