LGBT rights in Georgia (country)

This article is about LGBT rights in the country of Georgia. For LGBT rights in the U.S. state of Georgia, see LGBT rights in Georgia (U.S. state).
LGBT rights in Georgia

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal
Gender identity/expression Change of legal gender allowed, following sex reassignment surgery
Military service No known policy
Discrimination protections Yes
Family rights
Recognition of
Adoption No

Georgia is one of only few countries in the former Soviet space (others being EU-member Baltic states) that directly prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in legislation, labor-related or otherwise, and considers crimes committed on the grounds of one's sexual orientation an aggravating factor in prosecution.[1] Despite this, homosexuality is considered a major deviation from highly traditional Orthodox Christian values prevalent in the country, where public discussions of sexuality in general tend to be shunned. Consequently, homosexuals are often targets of abuse and physical violence.[2]

The government tries to bring the country's human rights record in line with the demands of Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has stated that "sexual minorities are the same citizens as we are... [and that] the society will gradually get used to it."[3] Moreover, recent street tensions in the country over LGBT rights have generated unprecedented media coverage and public discussion of this previously neglected topic.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

In 1933, Article 121 was added to the Criminal Code, for the entire Soviet Union, that expressly prohibited male homosexuality, with up to five years of hard labor in prison. The precise reason for the new law is still in some dispute. Some historians have suggested that Joseph Stalin's enactment of the anti-gay law was, like his prohibition on abortion, an attempt to increase the Soviet birthrate. The article was also used by Soviet authorities against dissident movements, with many activists being arrested on trumped-up sodomy charges.

After Georgia obtained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the aforesaid practice fell out of use and there are no recorded cases of sodomy article being openly used against political opponents ever since. Despite this, the freedom of same-sex sexual activity was not officially enshrined in the law until 2000, when the Georgian Government put in place an amended criminal code to meet the standards set forth by the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights.[4]

The age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual sex stands at 16 years of age as set by the Georgian Penal Code Articles 140 and 141.[5]

After a month of public consultation, 2016 proposals will be considered in Parliament. Public meetings on the ban are scheduled from mid-March until April 15 in various cities throughout the country.[6]

The proposal would then require three hearings on two different sessions with at least a three-month interval in between them. For the ban to be successful, a minimum of three-fourths of Parliament, or 113 of the 150 MPs, must vote in favor.[7]

Discrimination protections

Since 2006, Article 2(3) of the Labor Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment relations.[8]

According to the amended Georgian Criminal Code (since 2012), committing crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation, among other things, is an aggravating factor that should result in tougher sentences during prosecution.[1]

On 2 May 2014, the Parliament approved an anti-discrimination law, banning all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It took effect upon publication, on 7 May 2014.[9][10][11]

Gender identity/expression

Since 2008, transgender persons in Georgia can change documents and personal names only after having undergone sex reassignment surgery.[12]

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity is outlawed.[9]

LGBT freedom of expression

An event in 2006 that supposed to promote the tolerance and cultural dialogue was canceled after the rumours spread that it was supposedly a gay parade. The head of Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilya stated that the any kind of rally which features LGBT people are "offensive".[13]

On 17 May 2012, Georgian LGBT organisation Identoba organized a peaceful march in observance of International Day against Homophobia. This was the first public march in support of LGBT equality in Georgia. The march was discontinued soon after it started, however, because the marchers were assaulted by religious counter-demonstrators, including representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church and radical Christian groups.[14] Police intervened to protect the march participants only after the fighting had already broken out and arrested some of the victims instead of the perpetrators.[15]

Amnesty International criticized the Georgian government for failing to effectively protect the march.[16] On 14 January 2013, LGBT organization Identoba and the participants of the march filed an application against Georgia with the European Court of Human Rights. The application claims that Georgia failed to effectively protect the participants of LGBT march and did not investigate or adequately punish the perpetrators.[17]

The 2013 observance of International Day against Homophobia was also met with aggression. LGBT activists scheduled a rally to mark the occasion; however, it never took place. Thousands of anti-LGBT protestors, led by Georgian Orthodox priests, held a counter-demonstration. Protestors carried images of Jesus and signs reading "Stop promoting homosexual propaganda in Georgia" and "We don't need Sodom and Gomorrah." Some women waved symbolic bundles of nettle to "beat the gay people", including one woman who labeled the rally a "gay parade" held by "sick people ... against our traditions and ... morals" and proclaiming her readiness to fight. Despite a heavy police presence, the protestors stormed the barricades protecting the pro-LGBT rally. At least 28 people were slightly injured, with many trapped in buses and nearby shops and homes that were attacked by the protestors. According to a video from the scene, the police saved one young man from an apparent lynching by several dozen people. According to the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, however, the state "failed to ensure conduct of the scheduled event ... and thus [the] rights of rally participants to assembly and manifestation were grossly violated." Observers indicated that the police allowed Orthodox clergymen and other demonstrators to enter the barricaded area and were, in private communications, cynical and humiliating to the rally participants. Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, along with other leading officials, condemned the violence. He said, "The right to gather peacefully and to freely express one's opinion is fundamental to our democracy. Every Georgian citizen benefits fully and equally from this right. Acts of violence, discrimination and restriction of the rights of others will not be tolerated, and any perpetrators of such acts will be dealt with according to the law."[18][19][20][21][22][23]

Social attitudes

According to social attitude questionnaires, homosexuals remained one of the most disliked groups in society – with most respondents preferring an alcoholic rather than homosexual colleague at work.[24] According to the same questionnaires, an estimated 91.5 percent of Georgians think that homosexuality is "completely unacceptable".[25]

In October 2007 one of the contestants on the reality TV show Bar-4 outed himself on public television. After reportedly receiving a call from the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II of Georgia, the Georgian president allegedly pressured the producers of the show into evicting the gay participant from the TV program.[26]

Gender identity/expression

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal (Since 2000)
Equal age of consent (Since 2000)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment (Since 2006)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services (Since 2014)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) (Since 2014)
Discrimination based on gender identity banned (Since 2014)
Hate crime laws include sexual orientation (Since 2012)
Same-sex marriages (Constitutional ban proposed)
Recognition of same-sex couples
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples
Joint adoption by same-sex couples
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military
Right to change legal gender (since 2008)
Access to IVF for lesbians
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples
MSM allowed to donate blood (Since 2014)

See also


  1. 1 2 ILGA-Europe, President of Georgia signs anti-discrimination amendment 20 April 2012
  2. Global Rights report on Georgia (country)
  3. PM Comments on Planned Gay Rights Rally 14 May 2013
  4. "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF).
  5. Report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by Georgia – A report prepared for the Committee on the Rights of Child 34th Session – Geneva, September 2003 Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved. 25 June 2011.
  6. Public hearing process begins for constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  7. Georgia: MPs Launch Proceedings For Setting Constitutional Bar To Same-Sex Marriage
  8. Article 2(3), Labor Code of Georgia
  9. 1 2 Civil Georgia. "Civil.Ge - Anti-Discrimination Bill Adopted". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  10. "Georgia's Antidiscrimination Law Opposed By Church Comes Into Effect". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  11. "სსიპ "საქართველოს საკანონმდებლო მაცნე"". სსიპ ”საქართველოს საკანონმდებლო მაცნე”. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  12. Georgian Laws Discriminate on Transgender Rights
  13. "BBC NEWS - Europe - 'Gay' rally in Georgia cancelled". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  14. "Fighting at gay rights march in Tbilisi Georgia", BBC News, 17 May 2012
  15. "HRIDC statement on the dispersal of LGBT organization Identoba's demonstration". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  16. "'Virulent' homophobic attacks put South Caucasus activists at risk". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  17. "'Identoba' files an application to the European Court of Human Rights against Georgia", 29 January 2013
  18. "Crowds break up gay rights rallies in Georgia, Russia", Reuters, reported by Margarita Antidze and Liza Dobkina, published in the Chicago Tribute, 17 May 2013
  19. "Thousands protest in Georgia over gay rights rally", BBC News, reported by Damien McGuinness, 17 May 2013
  20. "Police, special task forces save gay parade participants from outraged citizens in Tbilisi", Ukraine News, Interfax News Agency, 17 May 2013
  21. "Georgia". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  22. "GYLA.GE - News - Initial evaluation of observer organizations on the scheduled rally on May 17, the International Day against homophobia and transphobia". GYLA. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  23. "LGBT rights and the long road to democracy in Georgia", Foreign Policy, posted by Arianne Swieca, 17 May 2013
  24. Lomsadze, Giorgi. Georgia: Time for Homosexuality to Come Out of the Closet? EurasiaNet.Org. Published:15 February 2011. Retrieved:25 June 2011
  25. "Georgia: Time for Homosexuality to Come Out of the Closet?". Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  26. Chuck Stewart, The Greenwood Encyclopaedia of LGBT issues worldwide, 2010
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