Anti-gay demonstrators

Anti-gay demonstrators in Tbilisi on May 17, 2014. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia has taken no real steps toward protecting the rights of sexual minorities, according to a new report by the Ombudsman.

The report, which was published on April 1, says there is an increase not only in homophobic attitudes but also crimes motivated by such attitudes.

On May 17, 2013, a small group of activists wanted to observe the international day against homophobia and transphobia. The rally was announced a few weeks in advance.

On the day of the rally, tens of thousands of people calling themselves Orthodox Christians together with clerics appeared in streets determined not to let the rally take place. The day ended up with a number of injured people, including journalists, while the antihomophobia gathering never happened.

About two years have now passed, but according to the Public Defender’s report, no-one has been punished for the violence that day.

Moreover, exactly one year after the clashes, the Georgian patriarch declared May 17 a day to celebrate family values. Tens of thousands of people marched that day in an anti-gay rally, while LGBT activists refrained from public observance of the day, out of fear that their safety would not be guaranteed.

The ombudsman’s report on human rights in 2013 proposed many recommendations for how to ensure the protection of the rights of LGBT people, but none of the recommendations have been followed.

Even though the Georgian parliament passed an anti-discrimination law after waves of criticism and resistance, the law still doesn’t ensure the needs of transgender people, and their fundamental rights are violated in some cases, the report reads. For example, transgender people face obstacles registering public documentation after having a sex-change operation, which creates obstacles for them against getting education or employment.

Furthermore, the ombudsman writes that in 2014, transgender sex-workers appealed to the office many times because they had been harassed by police, who showed homophobic attitudes and asked them to leave the place. When asked about this, police responded that such action was ‘measures for the prevention of crime’ in the ‘risky districts’ of Tbilisi.

A few days ago, DF Watch organized a discussion about homophobia in Georgia: