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19/10/2021 15:10:12
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Time to stand up for equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTIQ+ persons in Georgia

17.05.2021
Tbilisi, 17 May 2021 - This joint statement is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, and the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia.

Today, on the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), we express our support for and solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) community in Georgia, and stand united for the right of all to live free and equal in safety and dignity.

LGBTIQ+ people in Georgia continue to face bias, stigma, diminished opportunities in political, social and economic inclusion, as well as experience violent hate incidents and crimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the vulnerability of LGBTIQ+ people by amplifying prior injustices and obstacles in accessing healthcare, social protection and decent work.[1] Recognizing that LGBTIQ+ rights are human rights, we call on all relevant actors in Georgia to take resolute action to put an end to all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Georgia has shown progress in combating discrimination and homophobia towards LGBTIQ+ persons. In May 2014, Georgia adopted a landmark Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination,[2] which builds upon the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution and prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. In this context, we commend the Georgian authorities for issuing the first-ever legal recognition for a transgender person in 2021. The Public Defender’s Office, as anti-discrimination mechanism, makes laudable efforts to draw attention to the need to address violence against LGBTIQ+ people in private and public spaces, to facilitate dialogue with the LGBTIQ+ community to prioritize concerns and to monitor investigation of discrimination cases and hate crimes. We also welcome the steps taken by the Georgian law enforcement agencies to improve institutional capacity to investigate hate crimes,[3] high-level policy discussions on improving protection of LGBTIQ+ persons’ rights and statements of support to this cause by some political parties and leaders.

Many actors have vital roles to play to ensure that the comprehensive human rights protections enshrined in law effectively address routine prejudice and violence that LGBTIQ+ persons, organizations and allies encounter in their everyday reality in Georgia. We urge Georgian state, political, civic and religious leaders to give high priority to fighting discrimination and stigma through education and leadership within their respective areas of responsibility, including by vigorously preventing violence, adopting and embracing respectful and compassionate public discourse,[4] investigating attacks and prosecuting offenders, and ensuring proper legal response to and protection from violent acts that hinder LGBTIQ+ organizations from operating freely.

This year Georgia continues to ensure that its people are shielded from the worst impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and starts the road towards recovery. In its response to the pandemic, Georgia has seen first-hand the benefits of social solidarity. We are confident that the same spirit can help Georgia eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and embrace diversity, tolerance and empowerment of all people in Georgia as a source of strength. Underlining our shared commitment to equal rights for all, we pledge our support in this effort.

 
[1] For information from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on the risks faced by LGBTIQ+ persons in the COVID-19 crisis, see : https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/LGBT/LGBTIpeople.pdf(link is external).

[2] The Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, (2014), retrieved from https://bit.ly/3bcThh (link is external)

[3] Special Annual Report of the Public Defender on “the State of Equality”, (7 May 2021), retrieved from https://bit.ly/3tyxbwp (link is external)
 
[4] “The right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to live free from violence and discrimination based on SOGI are both built on a promise of human freedom, LGBT persons deserve that promise fulfilled”; Statement by human rights experts on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (to be held on 17 May 2021), retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27091&...(link is external)