The Attitudes of the Christian Churches in Georgia Towards LGBTQ People

The Georgian Orthodox Church is the dominant religious organization, of which 83% of the country’s population declares itself a member. Homosexuality here is considered to be a sin. Groups within the church, such as the MMK, the Union of Orthodox Parents, have publicly, demonstratively and homophobically called on the public to condemn both these individuals and their human rights organizations. They are linked to various rallies that took place during May 17, The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. On May 17, 2013, organized and called by the bishop of this church, Iakob (Iakobishvili), more than a few thousands of homophobic people not allow several human rights activists and members of the LGBTQ community to hold a peaceful rally. Following this horrific act, in 2019, Bishop Iakob was promoted to the rank of Archbishop. In recent years, the church leader himself, a number of members of the Holy Synod and the clergy have been accused of “Synody” (as they refer to it) and no positive trends of progression can be observed.

Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia – The diocese is part of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which believes that all sexual intercourse, except for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, is a sin – especially the homosexual intercourse. Among the opponents of the Diversity March in Yerevan were the clergy of the Armenian Church, who told reporters that “the Armenian Church is against homosexuality.” The involvement of the Armenian Church has never been observed in the anti-LGBTQ/homophobic demonstrations in Georgia.

Apostolic Administration of the Latin Catholics of Caucasus – Representation of the Roman Catholic Church for Latin Catholics living in Georgia and Armenia. According to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church – marriage is sacred to God. According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, homosexuals should live a sexually abstinent life. This means that the Church is calling on the believing homosexuals to live in celibacy. For the past 20 years, church leaders have often stressed that LGBTQ people are the children of their flock in need of Church care. In some dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church (especially: Germany, Austria, Switzerland) there are public blessings for same-sex couples, although this action has a revolutionary content within the church itself. The progression of liberal tendencies is obvious. The Apostolic Administration of the Latin Catholics of the Caucasus condemned the homophobic march organized by the hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in 2013.

Georgian Gospel Faith Church – The church from the 50ies in Georgia that is the most numerous amongst the Protestant churches in Georgia. It considers homosexuality to be a sin and such people, as they say, need to repent. They do not take part in demonstrations of a homophobic nature and condemn acts of violence against LGBTQ people.

Georgian Evangelical Baptist Church – it was one of the first churches to openly oppose homophobic manifestations. Bishop Malkhaz Songhulashvili and Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze often make statements in support of the LGBTQ community. Bishop Malkhaz Songhulashvili was the first religious leader to publish an open letter in 2013 opposing hate speech and supporting oppressed people. He also called on other religious leaders to oppose homophobia.

The church does not carry out marriage ceremonials between the same-sex couples because part of the worshipers and believers hold homophobic attitudes. But despite this, the church cathedral joins in the anti-homophobic spirit of May 17.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Georgia – the church, founded on the basis of the descendants of German colonists, is represented by 7 parishes, centered in Tbilisi. The church condemned the homophobic march in Tbilisi in 2013. Has no official or explicit position on LGBTQ people. More tolerant approaches can be observed.

Episcopal Church in Georgia – The Anglican Church, which is part of the Episcopal Church of America. It is presented as a mission of St. Nino in Tbilisi, as well as prayer groups in Kutaisi, Rustavi and Khobi districts. It is the only Christian church in the country that has full acceptance of LGBTQ people.

Church’s religious leader, Thoma Lipartian, openly supports the equality of LGBTQ people. The church supported the 2021 Tbilisi Dignity March.

Author: Thoma Lipartian

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