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Georgia’s public defender has called on the government to legally recognise same-sex relationships, for example with civil partnerships. In their 2017 report, the public defender also denounced recent constitutional changes defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The 2 April report said the amendments to the constitution will worsen homophobia and spread hatred in society. It said that unless queer relationships are legally recognised, the constitution ‘will contradict the standards of the European Court of Human Rights and the OSCE’s recommendations’.
Campaign for civil partnerships
The Equality Movement, a local queer right’s group, launched a campaign on Monday to raise awareness for the concept of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The organisation created several videos in which queer couples and activists share their experiences.
Lasha and Guram’s story
The Equality Movement said they want to partially eliminate the ‘legal inequality’ between queer and straight couples by pushing for the adoption of civil partnerships. According to their head, Levan Berianidze, straight married couples receive benefits and rights that queer couples do not.
‘If one partner is in hospital, the second one won’t be allowed to see them. If one partner is in jail, the other won’t be allowed to visit. Whether it’s insurance or any other economic benefit that families can benefit from, these are not available for LGBT couples. There are numerous rights and benefits heterosexual couples can benefit from, but not queer couples’, Liberali quoted Berianidze as saying.
In 2017, Georgia’s Parliament adopted a package of constitutional amendments, one of which defined marriage as a union between man and a woman. This definition already existed in the law. Rights groups have complained that the change will negatively affect queer people.
Homophobic violence in Georgia
In 2017, the prosecutor’s office examined 86 alleged hate crimes, 12 out of which were based on sexual orientation and 37 on gender identity.
The Public Defender’s report says violence against queer people, whether in the family or in public spaces, is a serious problem, and that the government has been unable to respond to this challenge.
The report said the public defender received numerous complaints regarding homophobic attitudes from law enforcement officials.
‘In some cases, complainants withdrew cases and refused to cooperate with the general inspection or the prosecutor’s office because they didn’t believe an investigation into their cases would be timely’, the report reads.
The report said transgender women in particular often appeal to the public defender’s office about violence they face.
‘Unfortunately, law enforcement officials don’t have an efficient strategy against hate motivated violence. They react to individual cases and don’t take action against the systematic problem’, the report reads.
[Read more about queer asylum seekers in Georgia on OC Media: A quest for safe haven — fleeing homophobia to Georgia]