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Posted on: 19 Jun 2013

A joint statement of NGOs

(Regarding the draft Conclusion prepared by the Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration of the Parliament of Georgia about the events of May 17)

We, the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), the Media Development Foundation (MDF), and the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), are responding to the draft Conclusion prepared by the Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration of the Parliament of Georgia about the events of May 17.

The content and context of the aforementioned document should be assessed as unequivocally negative. Despite the fact that the draft Conclusion does not contain final and specific legal assessment of the Committee regarding the events of May 17, the Committee, through the discussions in the Conclusion, expresses its support to the demand of the participants of the counter demonstration and the religious groups about the impermissibility of the protest planned for May 17 and justifies the restriction on holding the aforementioned assembly without any substantiation and with the pretext of respecting the public morals and the dominant religious faith, contrary to the international standards of human rights. By such interpretations, the authors of the draft Conclusion misrepresent the facts and, by doing so, try to justify the inadequate action by the state and the aggression demonstrated by the participants of the counter demonstration which had a criminal character.

It is unfortunate that the members and staff of the Committee of Human Rights and Civil Integration who took part in the preparation of the aforementioned draft Conclusion have an absolutely wrong idea of the contemporary understanding of human rights. The authors of the Conclusion have distorted the facts, and, willingly or unwillingly, presented the assessments together with incorrect interpretations of human rights law.

We think that the text of the draft Conclusion was drawn up in such a way that it makes it possible to interpret the protest against homophobia and transphobia as "propaganda of homosexuality”, which does not correspond with the character of the protest planned for May 17, on the one hand, and carries an unequivocally negative connotation and diminishes the rights of LGBT persons, one the other hand. The aforementioned comes into direct contradiction with the applicable international standards regarding the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Self-presentation of sexual and gender identity by LGBT persons in public space and struggle for the protection of their own rights is a precondition of a democratic society, and assessing this fact as propaganda and presenting it in a negative light comes into conflict with liberal values, the more so that the Council of Europe has negatively assessed the prohibition of propaganda of homosexuality in some European countries and demanded its abolition. In addition, the Committee’s explanation that there is no consensus in international community on the recognition of LGBT rights is incorrect. The absence of such consensus only pertains to the same-sex marriage and adoption of children by same-sex couples (and states in this respect are granted a wide margin of appreciation), and it does not by any means extend to freedom of assembly and expression. We believe that the draft Conclusion contains provisions that in practice justify the dominance of the religious and moral opinions of the majority in relation to minorities, which contradicts the principles of tolerance and pluralism and has a discriminatory character.

We, the signatory organizations, once again express our negative attitude to the contents of the aforementioned document and regard it as harmful for the protection of human rights. We consider it impermissible to adopt it with the presented contents, because it insults representatives of the LGBT community and encourages violence with xenophobic and homophobic motives in the society.

The Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

The Media Development Foundation (MDF)

The Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)