Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Georgia. Show all posts

May 14, 2015

Georgia’s Gay Rights Win EU Case Which Blocked Pride in ‘12

A gay rights activist clashes with an Orthodox Christian activist in Tbilisi on May 17, 2012.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has ruled that Georgian authorities failed to adequately protect gay-rights activists and should compensate victims of attacks aimed at blocking a gay-pride event three years ago. 
The ECHR issued its ruling on May 12, according to which the Tbilisi-based LGBT (lesbian, gays, bisexual, and transgender) group Identoba and more than a dozen activists were found eligible for compensation of between 1,500 and 4,000 euros ($1,675 to $4,465) from the Georgian government for its "failure to provide adequate protection."
The case stems from an incident in Tbilisi in May 2012, when activists tried to hold Georgia's first-ever gay-pride march to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.
Orthodox activists blocked their way, and some of the gay activists were verbally and physically assaulted. 
In addition to a violation of the right to free assembly, the ECHR also ruled that there was a violation of Article 3, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, in conjunction with the European Convention on Human Rights' Article 14 banning discriminatioin.
In 2013, a group of LGBT rights activists faced larger-scale violence when thousands of antigay demonstrators, led by Orthodox clerics, attacked a small group of LGBT activists who wanted to mark May 17 in an area adjacent to Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi. At least 28 people were injured in that incident. 
Fearing homophobic violence, LGBT rights groups in Georgia have since avoided public events to mark UN-sponsored International Day Against Homophobia. 
In an apparent attempt to counter International Day Against Homophobia, the Georgian Orthodox Church introduced what it calls Family Day, also on May 17. 
In 2014, the day was marked with a large rally, led by the Orthodox clerics, which took on an antigay tone and challenged newly adopted domestic legislation against discrimination.
Article posted By RFE/RL in

October 31, 2013

Sandra Day O’Connor Officiated a Gay Ceremony She Also Is Responsible for Anti-Sodomy Law to Continue

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, photographed in July 2012
Officiator of the first gay marriage at the Supreme Court, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
On Tuesday, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiated a same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court, the first gay wedding to take place in the court’s halls. (It wasn’t the first officiated by a justice, though; Ruth Bader Ginsburg beat O’Connor to that honor.) The event serves as a heartwarming confirmation that O’Connor’s shift to the left has continued through retirement—but it’s also a poignant reminder that the justice’s early retirement cut short what might have been an evolution from Reagan conservative to gay-rights luminary.
O’Connor’s jurisprudence wasn’t always so friendly to gays, of course. In 1986, O’Connor joined Justice Byron White’s five-member majority in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court’s first gay-rights case. Confronted with the constitutionality of Georgia’s anti-sodomy law, White infamously declared that a constitutional right to gay intimacy is “at best, facetious.” In dissent, Justice Harry Blackmun chastised the majority for its “almost obsessive focus on homosexual activity”—but with O’Connor on board, the court had its five votes, and sodomy laws survived.
Yet just 10 years later, O’Connor performed a somewhat unexpected about face inRomer v. EvansRomer dealt with a Colorado constitutional amendment forbidding local governments from enacting nondiscrimination statutes designed to protect gay people. Many gay-rights groups anticipated defeat after O’Connor, by then a frequent swing vote, remained alternately quiet and cagey during oral arguments. (Her most substantive questions pertained to the amendment’s breadth.) Court watchers were surprised, then, when O’Connor joined Justice Anthony Kennedy and four liberals to declare that the amendment was “a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense”—the first time the court had ever extended constitutional protections to gays.
This was not the O’Connor of the Bowers court. But even after RomerBowers remained on the books—until the blockbuster case of Lawrence v. TexasLawrence, like Bowers, dealt with an anti-sodomy statute. But unlike the law in Bowers, the Texas statute challenged in Lawrence specifically targeted “homosexual conduct,” while leaving heterosexual sodomy perfectly legal. Once again, Kennedy took the lead in Lawrence, penning an eloquent (if occasionally orotund) encomium to human intimacy that directly overruled Bowers. O’Connor, too, voted to overturn the Texas statute—but she refused to join Kennedy’s opinion overruling Bowers and thereby tacitly revoking herBowers vote. Instead, O’Connor held that an exclusively anti-gay sodomy ban violated the Equal Protection Clause by “mak[ing] homosexuals unequal in the eyes of the law.”
In one sense, the distinction represented an irksome refusal by the justice to concede her Bowers mistake. But ironically, O’Connor’s opinion also laid the groundwork for an alternate gay-rights jurisprudence—one conceivably stronger than that laid out by Justice Kennedy. Kennedy sees gay rights primarily as a Due Process issue: The Due Process Clause of the Fifth and 14th Amendments guarantees all people “life, liberty, and property,” and Kennedy has held, most recently in U.S. v. Windsor, that the “injury and indignity” inflicted by certain anti-gay statutes are “a deprivation of an essential part of ... liberty.”
Those are strong words, and thus far, they’ve provided satisfactory results. But “equal protection of the laws” is a firmer mandate—with sharper teeth. Had O’Connor remained on the court for long enough to confront the next round of gay-rights cases, she might have had time to hone her analysis, to develop her jurisprudence so that gays must be afforded the same constitutional protections as women or blacks. Instead, her retirement subtracted one pro-gay vote and added a rudely anti-gay one, ushering in an era of nail-baiting 5-4 gay-rights opinions. It’s impossible to know whether O’Connor’s gay-rights jurisprudence would have evolved so quickly had she remained on the bench. But it’s also difficult not to pine for a different version of the story, one that ends with O’Connor overcoming her Bowers error to emerge as the court’s true champion of equality.
Mark Joseph Stern is a Slate contributor. He writes about science, the law, and LGBT issu

August 20, 2013

Former USSR Georgia is Having The Birth Pains of The LGTB Movement

David  David Shubladze, a founder of LGBT Georgia, says that thousands of Georgians -- gay and straight -- signed a petition demanding judicial prosecution of the priests who led the anti-gay mob on May 17, 2013.  
As we know from our own experience in this country the start of any civil rights movement in which 
the status quo is pushed for change is painful for everyone involved. The Orthodox church in Georgia after the collapsed of the Soviet Union have become an assimilation of the Roman Catholic church 70 years ago. No one could question it and what ever the pope said it was not for discussion. That’s how it was in Georgia.  They warned the gay community not to hold any pride march, no public anything.  They had to stay hidden or there was going to be violence.

 Imagine not telling you are going to burn in hell but that they going to stone you to death. The love of god was certainly very fluid with them. The gay community said fuck you guys we are marching. They came out and were stop by the police because of the violence, but a few days latter they did the march and this time they completed it. The church was not all that powerful, the gays were not going to be stop because it was their life’s they were fighting for and they have had enough. 

They also see places like NY, California and many other states here in the Us and other nations in which gays have not retreated an inch. They see that and they learn to get results as well. They were supported by local Georgians for justice in which they could see that was being done to the gays was not Christian and more important it was civil. Breaking all the laws of the land by having the priests coming out to beat up people. Only two got arrested but that was enough because they thought they had carte blanche.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Adam Gonzalez~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

Gay rights have spread in the West, but a backlash is taking hold in the former Soviet Union.

Russia’s new ban on gay propaganda is sparking Western calls for boycotts of Russian products and events. In Georgia, the Georgian Orthodox Church led thousands of the faithful to block a gay rights rally last May here in Tbilisi, the nation’s capital.

They carried signs, they sang hymns and they carried stinging nettles to thrash gay people. Then they broke through police lines.

Chanting "Kill them, kill them," protesters mobbed a minibus in which gay activists took refuge.

No one was killed that day, and injuries were fairly light. Now, Georgia is taking stock.

Shalva Kekelia was one of 200 Orthodox priests there. He said most priests tried to prevent violence.

"We told the gay people that they should go, because we couldn’t keep the crowds from attacking them," he said, referring to warnings prior to the May 17 march. "But they refused and were really aggressive. So we couldn’t do anything to stop it."

Homosexuality as sin

Father Shalva said homosexuality is a sin that must be kept out of sight in Georgia.

For us it’s absolutely unbelievable, said the priest, the father of three children. "We understand that there is a freedom for everyone to do what they want, but we don’t want them to preach homosexuality, because it’s a sin."

Like many Georgians, Shalva sees tolerance for homosexuality as a foreign import. "In Europe they always try to teach us what to do," he said in the quiet of his 100-year-old church off Tbilisi's busy Rustaveli Avenue. "Why do they think that we are that stupid, that we don’t know what we have to do?"

But, only a few blocks away, David Shubladze, a founder of LGBT Georgia, sits at a garden café. He said Georgia has its own, homegrown tolerance.

"There were manifestations to support us that were organized, not by LGBT people, but by normal Georgian citizens," he said, referring to a petition drive. "They gathered 15,000 signatures, and gave it to parliament so that they would investigate the May 17 violence."

Citizen support for LGBT

When a ruling party congressman questioned the signatures, people posted their photos on a Facebook page, some with notes saying: "I signed and I am real."

Due to public pressure, a taboo was broken: Two priests went on trial, charged with using violence and threats to interfere with a demonstration. One was acquitted. The other is to go on trial this week.

Alexander Rondeli, a Tbilisi think tank director, said the aftermath of the anti-gay violence is positive.

"What happened is not bad because after that the taboo about impunity of criticism of the Church was lifted," said Rondeli, president of  the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. "And now many people criticize that. Before the Church was taboo. We could not discuss what church was doing."

Georgian Prime Minister Bizdina Ivanishvili said that his government protects minorities.

Three days later the same group was able to have a peaceful rally," he told VOA in an interview at his Estate in Ureki. "The police acted in a very sharp and distinct way, and those who were agitating crowds and forcing them against minorities were punished. It was a very clear-cut example of how government acted in defense of those minorities."

As this traditional society moves into the 21st century, Georgia’s new generation can be expected to grapple with more and more societal change.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

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