We, the signatory organizations, respond to the rising homophobic violence before and after May 17, 2016 and we urge the state to take immediate effective measures to prevent crime, and ensure safe and peaceful environment.
Following May 17, 2013 mass violent counter-demonstrations, organized by Church, extremist and different political groups, LGBT activists are not given the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of assembly and expression in Georgia. This is due to the inherently inefficient, discriminatory Government policies and Government’s and political elite’s loyalty towards prevailing homophobic discourse.
Even though, similarly to previous years, this year, LGBT community and activists were not allowed to make use of their freedom of assembly, before May 17, 2016 and after, dozens of sporadic violence cases against LGBT community members were reported. These violent acts were committed by strangers in public space, and were motivated by hate based on alleged victims’ sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
- April 22, also on May 18th, young people were beaten in the streets. Young boys were wearing earrings, which perpetrators connected to May 17th and SOGI, and they were beaten due to alleged homophobic motive.
- April 28 and May 21, On the street, due to alleged homophobic motive, violence and threatts against “LGBT Georgia” and “Temida” representatives were reported;
- May 21 Two young men were stabbed on the street, due to homophobic motive. One of them was a minor. His health situation was unstable and the surgery was needed.
It should be noted that since May 17, 2013 mass violent and homophobic counter-demonstrations, escalation of violence towards LGBT community members was reported. During the following two weeks, Women’s Initiatives Supportive Group, Identoba and Public Defender’s Office revealed 32 cases of violence against community members.
In this situation, the members of the LBGT community, especially LGBT activists are living in fear, stress and vulnerable conditions. They exist in the permanent state of emergency. Due to Police ineffective response and their homophobic attitudes, LGBT community members, in fact, remain alone in the face of harassment and persecution.
LGBT community’s mistrust towards the police and state institutions deepened especially on May 17, after the repressive and the disproportionate arrest of LGBT activists by the group of Ministry of Internal Affairs’ employees, dressed in civilian clothes, when activists were trying to express their protest in front of the Patriarchate. Considering the ineffective investigation of May 17, 2013 violent counter-demonstrations and state’s disproportionate and weak efforts to ensure freedom of assembly for LGBT community members, repression towards LGBT person gain symbolic and political importance and indicates government’s selective approach. Police using hate speech towards LGBT rights’ activists and their violation of religious neutrality indicates the problem of institutionalized homophobia.
We believe that homophobic attitudes and increased violence, is result, on the one hand, of the political, religious and extremist groups’ activities, and, on the other hand, of the state’sessentially ineffective, discriminatory and non-secular policy. In this regard, special emphasis must be given to infamous homophobic crimes, including violent crachdown of May 17, 2013 IDAHO assembly and inefficient investigation of transgender women – Sabi Beriani murder cases, as well as court’s biased and unjustified acquittal decision, which are an obvious examples of the state’s loyalty towards unfair policies and homophobic attitudes. In the patriarchal and non-secular society, together with the problem of homophobia, due to sharp politicization of LGBT issues, the exten of homophobia in society is even more progressive. It reaches every sphere of the social and political life and becomes institutionalized. Homophobic language of representatives of political parties during public discussions is transformed into real violence.
Considering the above-mentioned, the signatory organizations ask:
President of Georgia and Government
- Make timely public statements regarding the fight against hate crimes and the importance of the anti-discrimination policy, which, considering the growing homophobic attitudes and violence, is essential for public security and protection of peace;
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and Prosecutor’s Office
- Ensure effective and timely investigation of the recently revealed homophobic crimes, including identifying hate motive, adequately qualify the case and provide appropriate punishment for the perpetrators;
- Carry out adequate informative policy, which will be a declaration of Government’s readiness to combat hate motivated crimes and include strict policy regarding hate crimes in the Criminal Code;
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia
- Take immediate preventive measures in order to ensure security and peace for LGBT community members and activists. In this regard, we believe that it is important to come up with a special hotline and, together with the LGBT rights organizations and the Ombudsman’s Office, create a work environment where communication can happen;
- Strictly respond to the Police using homo/bi/transphobic language and their negligence towards the LGBT community.
- Implement ethics-related regulations for members of the parliament in order to prevent hate speech.
- Implement effective parliamentary control over the work done by the executive branch in terms of hate crimes;
- Avoid using homo/bi/transphobic language and respect the idea of tolerance and human rights;
- Make critical public statements regarding increasing homophobic violence;
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC);
Women’s Initiatives Supportive Group (WISG)
Georgian Democratic Institute (GDI);
Media Development Funt (MDF);
Tolenrance and Diversity Institute (TDI);
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED);
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA);
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR);
Open Society Georgia Foundation;
Transparency International Georgia;
Women’s Fund in Georgia;
Studio Mobile – Accent on Action.