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 Tert.am in Armenia:
Well-Known Georgian LGBT Organization Raided by Police, Leader Arrested
11:12 • 24.12.09
The office of Inclusive Foundation, a well-known LGBT organization in Tbilisi, Georgia, was raided by plainclothes police officers on December 15, 2009, who, according to a December 23 press release on the organization’s official website, neither provided a search warrant, nor identified themselves or the agency they represented, nor did they explain the purpose of their intrusion.
Members of the LGBT community were present in the office during the raid for a regular meeting of the Women’s Club. According to the press release, the men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks. They threatened to take photos of the women and disseminate them to reveal their sexual orientation. They also threatened to ‘kill’ and ‘tear to pieces’ one of the organizers of the Women’s Club if she did not stop demanding a search warrant and police ID.
Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization, was arrested as a result of the raid.
According to information provided by Inclusive Foundation, staff members of the organization are under continuous surveillance. An unidentified car is permanently stationed outside the entrance to the house of one of the staff members.
Full details of the case in the organization’s appeal to the Georgian President, the Public Defender of Georgia, and the Diplomatic Missions accredited in Georgia, as well as international organizations is not yet available.
The appeal is online by now.
See also here.
Both are also staunch allies of the United States government. Both governments send their subjects as cannon fodder to wars started by George W. Bush: Ugandans to Somalia; Georgians to first Iraq, now Afghanistan. Gay people apparently do not fit in militarist macho culture deemed necessary for sending the cannon fodder; even if those gay people are not inside the military. Hence, the repression.
Quentin Crisp vs. gay rights: here.
British Lib Dems attack Tory voting record on gay rights: here.
British Council Armenia sponsors homophobic radio station: here.