The former Soviet republic of Georgia is moving forward with a proposed law that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The country is religious and quite conservative, but it also wants to join the European Union, and a fully inclusive anti-discrimination law is a prerequisite for EU membership.
The bill passed its first reading last week, but Orthodox Church officials in Georgia are still trying to block it.
Democracy & Freedom Watch reports:
Clerics in Georgia don't want a Europe where 'homosexuality is legalized,' and call on parliament to not pass an anti-discrimination law required for the signing of an association agreement with the EU...
The Georgian Patriarch, who is the country's most influential person, scoring more than 97 percent on opinion polls over who people trust, wants to postpone the adoption of the bill.
The Church, formally called the Patriarchate, and some politicians do not want to adopt the anti-discrimination law because they think it is 'legalization of homosexuality' and in their opinion this means losing sovereignty over the country, but the government and the lawmakers who wrote the law claim that this fear is groundless.
The bill was prepared by the Ministry of Justice. Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani explains that when the bill is passed, there will be a specific ban on discrimination on the basis of age, health condition, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and profession. The draft prohibits discrimination both in public and private places.
The report notes that the clerics "don't even want to hear" counterarguments, and that they've resorted to condemning any opinions different from their own as a sin.
To mollify critics of the anti-discrimination measure, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is reportedly pushing for the passage of an anti-gay constitutional marriage discrimination amendment.