“Hello, Tamar, I am contacting you from the online platform queer.ge” – before the elections, during the most culminating period, this is how I started talking to Georgian politicians. I did a little journalistic experimentation and called some politicians who are less likely to talk about these topics. In some ways, my experiment worked, however, while preparing the material, I also met respondents who addressed me directly to the female speakers of their party. Although the situation has changed, our politicians still find it difficult to use LGBTQ terminology in their interviews.
As it was expected, despite our many attempts, the representatives of our government did not respond to us. We asked our respondents how they see the way of solving LGBTQ + problems.
Giorgi Baramidze – United National Movement
“All citizens of our country are equal before the law. Everyone’s rights should be protected, regardless of their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. This is the main thing that is embedded in the Constitution of Georgia and this European standard is recognized in all civilized countries – each of us is equal before the law and everyone’s rights must be protected.
As for the Ethics Council, in fact, it does not work. Virtually no one is protected in this country. Everyone should be equally protected, this ide lies in the Constitution of Georgia, in the legislation, this is humane and this is common sense. All of us should enjoy equal rights and equal opportunities, but, unfortunately, this is not often the case in Georgia.”
Nika Machutadze – Movement – “State for People”
“As for July the 5th, first of all, a very clear and objective investigation must be carried out. This does not only refer to a specific topic, it refers to national security, as well as the general democratic background that should be inviolable in the country. As for the discrimination that certain community members suffer, I would say that no citizen should be discredited. The Ethics Council, unfortunately, is a formal council that only exists on the paper. These issues must be regulated adequately. Much more effort should be made in order to create a civilized system where people can protect their rights and their lives. In general, a larger part of the society, age or social group should be as informed as possible about this issue. Specifically, if it has to refer to a school or a university, it has to be reflected in public activities – it is the job of specialists to spread this information in the community.
The first thing is to ensure the protection of rights – the situation in Georgia is the worst in this regard. First of all, the state must be able to ensure the protection of these rights, as various groups are in direct danger of suffering the violation of these rights. In my opinion, this is the first thing that should be solved in the country, and then, step by step, we can talk about other stages as well.”
Nona Mamulashvili – United National Movement
“I think that, in general, the policy of tolerance has the essence of being improved in Georgia. It is not just hatred and intolerance towards LGBT people, it is also the same about ethnic minorities and intolerance towards all different people, tolerance as such, we must definitely improve. And what’s more the sooner we make it happen, the better will it be for our society.
Unfortunately, this topic is often used during the election period, manipulating with Georgian traditions topic that is, in fact, neither a tradition nor a Georgian identity – it is simply a good propaganda from Russia that is well-established in the media and society. There is so much disgust in the society because they do not know, they are not familiar with, they are just told that they should act like that. The responsibility shoul be taken by each of us. Freedom does not mean that you can insult someone and, moreover, use it to call for violence. We have seen that such cases are quite common, especially during the election period.
There are plenty of Western tactics out there to deal with this. I think that we can introduce a similar practice in Georgia very successfully. It just needs the appropriate government and political will.
As for the discrimination, discrimination in labor relations must be eliminated. There is no proper actions made against hate crimes, we have no effective investigation adequate punishment practice – July the 5th is an example of this. We return to the fact that it requires political will and then the implementation of this political will. In this case, we will have to introduce very serious educational projects
When you live in a violent state, unfortunately, we have no guarantee that someone will protect us. Moreover, the state does not protect and calls on others to resort to violence. When we have a proper political class, this problem will also be easily solved. I realize that there are a lot of problems and it can be solved quite easily if there is political will. I see no problem at all for instance in simplifying the sex reassignment procedure in the passport, it is a very artificial obstacle made by the government.”
Teona Akubardia – “Strategy Builder”
“The main problem in the country today is that fundamental human rights are being violated. July the 5th was an expression of this, the constitutional right to assembly and expression was violated. Unfortunately, there is no political will in the country for the fundamental human rights to be protected. We saw that the head of government supported the aggressive rhetoric, the crowd that opposed the July the 5th contraction and the right to expression. Consequently, I believe that raising awareness is the main element, political acceptance between political forces is the second issue.
From my point of view eight parties’ signature is a step forward. However, there are quite sensitive topics that I think we need to work on, such as acceptance. We also need to focus on shelters, this is an additional problem for queer people. I cannot asses this topic in depth, because it I am not an expert in this field.
I believe that all this is pro-Russian propaganda, a war of values aimed at confronting the anti-Western campaign in a country which contains Russian interests. It will only be possible to neutralize this situation, if there is a political force in the country, that have the aim of ensuring democracy in that country, which we do not really have currently. At the same time, we need more acceptance and elementary knowledge that all people are equal. Political leadership and governing forces oppose all of this, and I think the key is still the political will that needs to come from the political leadership.
As for the other issues, I am not a member of the Ethics Commission, but everything is done with political will. The rule of law, universal rights are violated in the country and, most importantly, it contradicts the identity too. What we see today is absolutely Russian narrative. I consider this struggle in two contexts: on the one hand – the interests of Russia, on the other – the part of rights where there are many challenges.
I had a student whose emotions were very heavy on me because he was experiencing domestic violence due to the environment. He thanked me as a lecturer that I did not create any problems, I saw his problems with my own eyes. Consequently, acceptance comes from knowledge. I repeat once again that this is a sensitive topic and we must be very careful not to resist but to support it. This topic as well, to some extent, needs a developed policy.
We have signed a memorandum with 8 parties, which is an important statement. I think it is often used, including against the “strategy builder” politically, as well as against other opposition parties. The only political party, against which this issue is not used – is the Georgian Dream, which reaffirmed that they do not intend to protect the rights of all people in this country. Given that 8 parties signed this document, it gives us the opportunity to say that the protection of rights will be important.
I welcome the fact that all people in Georgia have the opportunity to live with dignity. How many trainings have been conducted on oppression, but if there is no political will, I do not think that any training will help, other plans cannot be implemented without political will.”
Author: Tamar Kutateladze
Photo on the main: Ana Zurabishvili-Tsurtsumia