The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) strongly condemns the violence directed towards the LGBTIQ community and media representatives earlier this month. IPPF calls on the Georgian authorities to investigate the violence, and hold all perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law. IPPF is also concerned at reports of inaction by the police during the violence.
On 5 July 2021, the participants of LGBTIQ Tbilisi Pride and their allies, as well as journalists covering the Pride, were unable to exercise their rights, and instead faced imminent threats to their safety. Violence against them resulted in severe injuries and the death of one journalist.
Georgia’s national law prohibits all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The country has ratified the core international human rights conventions that guarantee freedom and independence of media, and bans discrimination against LGBTIQ persons, the same way they forbid discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or political conviction. The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression constitute key universal human rights and are assured under the Georgian Constitution.
These values are enshrined in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the Association Agreement with the EU, Georgia has committed to strengthen respect for democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including media freedom and the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and to contribute to consolidating domestic political reforms.
Nino Tsuleiskiri, Director of HERA XXI, IPPF’s Member Association in Georgia, commented:
“The direct refusal of the Ministry of Interior to address the mounting violence has resulted in a tragic escalation of violence against media representatives in the past weeks. We call on the Georgian government and authorities to assume responsibility and ensure safe and stigma free environment for every citizen of Georgia.
The right to life, right to health, as well as access to safe and adequate services have been hampered by ongoing hate-motivated violent attacks on members and allies of LGBTIQ community in Georgia. All persons have a right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes the underlying determinants of health and access to sexual health care for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all sexual concerns, problems and disorders in a stigma free environment.”
Tor-Hugne Olsen, Head of the Sexual and Gender Center of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) added:
“For people to attain the highest standard of health, they must first be empowered to exercise choice in their sexual and reproductive lives; they must feel confident and safe in expressing their own sexual identity – this is a human right. The attack on the LGBTIQ community in Georgia shows us that there is still much work to be done to ensure those rights are realized for all. Sexuality is a natural and precious aspect of life, an essential and fundamental part of our humanity and must be protected.”
Intensified rhetoric against rights increases the vulnerability of Georgia’s democracy, which already faces significant disinformation challenges. No measures have been taken by the government of Georgia to prevent or deter hate driven speech, provide sufficient protection as violent acts against activists and journalists were carried out.
IPPF calls on the Georgian authorities without delay to uphold the rule of law, to investigate police inaction and violation of the right to freedom of assembly, right to health, right to life, and the bodily integrity of journalists and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Law enforcement should act swiftly to protect those exercising their Constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly, to protect journalists exercising freedom of the press, and to publicly condemn violence.