From the Georgian International Media Centre:
Scapegoating gay people for Georgia‘s crisis
April 24, 2010 by georgiamedia
Elections are meant to be the chance for the people to express their views without fear.
But elections can also be a time of heightened fear and threat: especially for those in a minority in a society in crisis, argues Paata Sabelashvili, president of the Inclusive Foundation – Georgia’s lesbian and gay rights campaign and the only open gay rights organisation in the Caucasus.
Homosexuality is legal in Georgia – but the rights of lesbians, gay men and transgendered people are under attack. Sabelashvili was personally targeted by the police recently, the Inclusive Foundation’s offices raided, staff and clients intimidated and insulted and the office damaged. Arrested on the scene, Sabelashvili says he was only released from prison after he agreed to a plea bargain which saw him admit to a marijuana possession charge.
He says that the drugs charge was a cover for an attack on the Inclusive Foundation that was designed to appease nationalist and conservative forces aligned with the Georgian Orthodox Church’s campaign against gay rights. With the government under pressure in the backwash of the Tea Tutberidze affair and a visible break down of relations with the Patriarch, it may well be that such actions help shore up the government’s support with more conservative voters.
But while the government seems to play both sides in this debate – President Saakashvili has recently been citing his government’s legalisation of homosexuality as a positive step forward, but only to audiences outside Georgia – others see “gay bashing” as a way of winning votes.
In parliament the Christian Democrats have called for homosexuality to be recriminalised (a move that would see Georgia expelled from the Council of Europe) and, as Sabelashvili recounts in the video here, have promoted a scare campaign about gay marriage. Others – such as Malkhaz Gulashvili, publisher of the Daily Georgian Times and founder of the People’s Orthodox Movement – are campaigning for the same outcome outside parliament.
At the root of much of this, argues Sabelashvili, is the population crisis in Georgia. Using arguments completely discredited in the west, anti-gay campaigners, either out of prejudice or ignorance, claim that homosexuality is like some infection that spreads through the population and so cuts the birth rate. For them it needs to be suppressed.
But, as Sabelashvili says here, the real factor that is cutting the birth rate is the poverty that drives so many young Georgians away from their homeland and leaves them vulnerable when abroad.
From the Georgian International Media Center:
“Pride” parade story “a lie” says leading gay rights campaigner
Submitted by georgiamedia on Mon, 23/08/2010 – 15:01
Stories that a gay “Pride” demonstration is planned in Georgia are “a lie” says one of the country’s leading gay rights campaigners.
In recent days there has been much speculation in the Georgian media about a “Pride” event in the country – and the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchy even went so far as to condemn plans to recreate “Sodom and Gomorrah” in Georgia’s streets.
Socially conservative opposition parties have raised this idea before – usually with the claim that the government are behind it. This seems to be the case this time too.
Paata Sabelishvili, president of the Inclusive Foundation, Georgia’s premier gay rights campaigning body, says the stories are “a lie” and the result of “lazy” journalism. What is more he says they are being spread by Sandro Bregadze of the Zviadist “Freedom” party.
In the past members of the Freedom party have pledged to make Tbilisi’s streets run with the blood of gay people and have also promoted Nazi symbolism online.