The members of the homophobic and violent party, the conservative movement, who are also the organizers of the July 5 violence, are demanding changes to the law of Georgia “on gatherings and demonstrations”. Giorgi Kardava, Zurab Makharadze, Irakli Morgoshia, Shota Martynenko and Konstantine Morgoshia want to ban such gatherings and manifestations, which aim or during which there may be “demonstrating, popularizing and/or propaganda of sexual orientation”.
In addition, the law drafted by the violent group states that it should be prohibited to hold an assembly or demonstration “if it aims at or during which there may be any statements or calls that are against any religious movement, defamatory and/or against the beliefs of people of any religious sect, insulting or / and during which there may be war and propaganda of violence, incitement of national, regional, religious or social strife”.
In addition to the Law on Assemblies and Manifestations, the project envisages changes in administrative offenses and criminal codes. Leaders of violent and homophobic groups demand a change in the Code of Administrative Offenses, according to which violation of the norms provided for in Articles 9, 10¹, 11 and 11¹ of the Law of Georgia on Assembly and Manifestation will lead to a fine in the amount of 3,000 GEL or administrative imprisonment for up to 25 days. And if the violator is an organizer – fined in the amount of 5,000 GEL or administrative imprisonment for up to 30 days.
As for the Criminal Code, the leaders of the violent groups demand that Article 347 of the following content of the repeated violation of the rule of assembly or demonstration be added to the Code:
“Repeated violation of the norms provided for in Articles 9, 10¹, 11 and 11¹ of the Law of Georgia on Assembly and Manifestations — is punishable by a fine or community service for a term of 180 to 240 hours or corrective work for a term of up to 2 years with imprisonment for a term of 2 with deprivation of the right to hold office or work for a period of up to 3 years”.
According to the explanation of the bill, the leaders of violent and homophobic groups in the card indicate that the request for the mentioned changes is related to the events of 2013-2021, when “attempts to hold events related to the public demonstration of sexual orientation in public space caused public excitement and mass protests of the population, which clearly showed that in Georgian society, conducting similar events in the space of these cultural and ethnic values represents the crossing of the threshold that the state and society set regarding the norms of behavior in the public space.
According to them, “seeing similar activities in public space, especially by children, is strongly unacceptable for the population, therefore, it is necessary to clearly formulate the rules for holding public gatherings and demonstrations, because in the interests of public peace and security, similar events should be avoided.”
Violent groups name the “deficiency” of the current legal regulations as the basis for initiating the draft law and claim that “the legal regulations are not exhaustive, leaving an opportunity for individuals and groups of individuals to abuse the legal regulation and achieve an illegal goal with their own interpretation.”
The bill has already been submitted to the Bureau of the Parliament. In the decision of the Bureau dated December 12, 2022, it is written that “on the basis of the proposal of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, presented by at least 25,000 voters in the manner of a legislative initiative”, consideration of the draft law should begin in committees and factions. The period from February 8 to May 5, 2023 is indicated as the estimated date of consideration of the bill at the plenary session.
According to the current legislation in Georgia, a permit is not required to hold the rally. In the event that the assembly or demonstration is held in a place of traffic or obstructs traffic, the organizers must notify the executive body of the municipality in advance, unless traffic is blocked for reasons independent of the assembly or demonstration. The municipality must discuss the feasibility of changing the place and time of the gathering or demonstration with the organizers within 3 days and give them a written recommendation if:
- assembly or demonstration poses a real threat to the normal functioning of enterprises, institutions and organizations;
- Another action (about which a warning was filed earlier with the executive body of the municipality) is planned to be held at the same place and at the same time.
The authors of the draft law demand that all the changes that will be included in the existing law take effect on the 15th day after the publication of the law.
Note: Constantly attempts by violent and homophobic groups to associate the freedom of expression of LGBTQ people with “propaganda” or “promotion” are wrong. Apart from the fact that “propaganda” of sexual orientation or gender identity is impossible, according to Georgian legislation, every person has freedom of expression.