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Transgender woman found murdered in burnt out apartment in Tblisi, Georgia

Transgender woman found murdered in burnt out apartment in Tblisi, Georgia

Georgian LGBTI rights advocates have urged Georgian authorities to investigate the murder of a young transgender woman as a hate crime and have urged the media to report sensitively on the killing.

The 25-year-old woman was found locked inside her burning apartment. It is believed the fire was lit in an attempt to destroy evidence related to the killing.

According to Democracy & Freedom Watch the woman had appeared several times on television to discuss LGBTI issues but it is unknown if her death is linked to her activism.

Georgian LGBTI rights group Identoba has released a statement on the killing and has warned that all too often crimes against LGBTIs in Georgia were not investigated to see if they were hate crimes.

‘The police are almost always trying to not class homophobic-motivated crimes as such and charges of classic premeditated murder, hooliganism or some other charge is used to make it seem that the offender did not commit the offense in aggravated circumstances,’ the group said in its statement.

‘Identoba calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to publicize details of the victim’s personal life, including her name and other identifying marks, but at the same time, since the crime has been made public, we request that they announce clearly whether the case bears signs of being a hate crime.

‘Although there are frequent acts of violence against transgender people, not only in Georgia but also in other parts of the world, which are often fatal, in Georgia the qualifications bestowed on hate crimes remains an insurmountable problem.

‘The media are generally not interested in the fact that the crime itself is horrific, but are notorious for their interest instead in the alleged victim’s orientation and gender identity. This has been corroborated by dozens of media representatives’ questions to us about the victim’s sexual orientation, in which they only ask for confirmation that the victim was LGBT.

‘We appeal to media outlets not to make the tragedy and controversy a tabloid story. Every human life is precious regardless of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.’

Georgia’s Criminal Code does include sexual orientation and gender identity in its hate crimes legislation but they have rarely been used since the law was passed in 2012.

It was only in May this year that Georgia outlawed discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in other spheres and LGBTI rights events in the former Soviet state have often been met with violence.