What We Need to Know about the Hateful Law that Limits Human Rights and Imposes Censorship

ქართული ოცნება

A few weeks have passed since the end of the constitutional discussions on the homophobic and hateful bill, and the Georgian Dream initiated the bill, which envisages changes in various laws on the same issues. The ruling party calls it the “family values ​​and protection of minors” bill, which should ban the non-existent “LGBT propaganda”. A similar law has been in effect in Russia for several years and is used to persecute civil society and restrict the rights of the queer community.

According to the chairman of the parliament, the draft law will be uploaded on the website of the parliament today, and the first reading is planned for the spring session, and the second and third readings are planned for the fall. The document worsens the legal situation of the queer community, restricts freedom of expression and imposes censorship.

The draft law consists of 1 main law and 18 secondary drafts — amendments are included in the Civil Code, the Labor Code, the legislation on education, etc. Today’s briefing, like all others held on this issue, was full of homophobic and discriminatory terms, which Aprili Media completely disassociates itself from and offers only in the public interest:

  1. “The issue of marriage: it will be regulated by law that it will be inadmissible to register an alternative union of marriage, which contradicts the conditions established by the Georgian legislation for marriage, that is, there will be no union between a man and a woman.”
  2. “The question of adoption: it will not be allowed to adopt a minor by people who identify themselves as a gender different from their own sex, or who are not heterosexual people, when we are talking about single people who want to adopt.”
  3. “Gender reassignment surgery: it will be prohibited to perform a surgical operation for the purpose of gender reassignment, or to use any other type of medical manipulation”.
  4. “Gender indication in documents: it will be prohibited to indicate a person’s gender different from his/her gender in an identity document or other document issued by the government”.
  5. “Prohibition of propaganda in the education sector: it will not be allowed to produce LGBT propaganda in an educational institution, in particular, to promote the dissemination of such information, which is aimed at the promotion of a person’s belonging to a gender different from his own sex, relations between representatives of the same sex, or incest”.
  6. “Dissemination of information: it will not be allowed for the broadcaster to disseminate such information on its air, which is aimed at the promotion of a person’s belonging to a gender different from his own, same-sex relations, or incest. The following caveat is important here, that this prohibition applies only to the extent that it is not allowed to broadcast a scene depicting an intimate relationship between representatives of the same sex, or a scene of incest. Also, advertising of the same content will be prohibited, which, once again, in the case of the broadcaster, means that these scenes themselves will not be allowed to be broadcast.”
  7. “Assembly and demonstration: it will not be allowed in public, I emphasize, public assembly and demonstration, which is aimed at the promotion of a person’s belonging to a different gender than his or her own sex, relations between representatives of the same sex, or incest.”
  8. “Employment relations, both in private and public institutions: the obligation imposed within the framework of the employment relationship, which is aimed at disregarding biological sex, will be void.”

The law would limit access to medical services for transgender people during the transition process, and they would not be able to indicate the correct gender on identity documents if it does not match their biological sex, further complicating their already difficult legal situation.

To the question of whether the books, which according to the law can be considered as carrying “propaganda”, will be removed or whether the Ministry of Culture will stop funding events with such content, Papuashvili repeated the articles of the draft law and added:

“Regarding creative materials, programs and broadcasters, a reservation is made here specifically that it applies as much as it concerns the non-airing of intimate scenes. Not to restrict thematically and content, but the scenes themselves, which is a common practice.

As for dissemination of information, it applies to broadcasters and film screenings, so to speak, but not to cultural events in any other way. In this case, the broadcasters are concerned only within the limits, conditionally, if there is a film and there is an intimate scene of this content, this scene should be limited and not aired”.

To the clarifying question of the journalist, whether this would apply to cinemas as well, Papuashvili said that yes. So, after the implementation of the law, you will see censored films on Georgian channels and in cinemas. To easily imagine the scale of this censorship, it will affect such series as: Game Of Thrones, How To Get Away With Murder, Elite, Gossip Girl, Modern Family, Gray’s anatomy, The White Lotus, It’s a Sin and many others.

During the presentation of this project, as well as during the constitutional discussions, Shalva Papuashvili repeatedly mentioned May 17, but not the international day of the fight against homophobia, but the so-called anti-homophobia established by the patriarchate as a counterweight family purity day. The Speaker of the Parliament informed us that May 17 will be officially established as the day of family sanctity and respect for parents and will be declared a holiday.

Speaking about the necessity of the draft law, he manipulated the fact that this idea had support in the public discussions and presented the May 17 mass march as a “public referendum” on this issue. In saying this, he used the number of people as an argument in support of the law, but somehow the same argument does not work when evaluating the large-scale actions against the Russian law.

Papuashvili answered the questions about the reasons for the necessity of the law with the same propaganda that he used about the constitutional amendments and which we have already told you about and which you can see in detail here: How an Election Campaign Built on Hate, Homophobia, and Conspiracy Theories Works

We remind you once again that “LGBT propaganda” does not exist and people do not change their identity as a result of providing any information. Claiming the opposite is aimed at discrediting the queer community and using them as a political tool to influence homophobic voters. Remember:

  • You can’t become queer by being called to do so — LGBTQ+ people existed long before queer movies and TV series were made.
  • The fact that over the years the number of people who identify as queer has been increasing in various studies is not the result of “propaganda” – speaking about one’s identity out loud is no longer dangerous in some countries and acceptance in that society has increased.
  • Queer representation in movies, series, literature and media has increased not because the Western “pseudo-liberal lobby” is trying to “pervert” and “gay” the world community, but because any industry is growing, becoming more inclusive and trying to cover everyone equally.
  • The narrative of “gay propaganda” by influential organizations and individuals in the West is as much a conspiracy theory as the existence of the “Global War Party”.

It is also a lie that the Georgian Dream claims that rights and “propaganda” will be separated by this bill, because the legal status of queers is directly harmed. According to the Center for Social Justice, it opposes freedom of expression and imposes censorship. In addition, this legislative initiative, in addition to its incompatibility with constitutional and international legal principles in the field of human rights protection, contradicts the tasks of European integration, which are based on the principle of protecting the ideals of equality. Therefore, beyond harming human rights and democracy, this constitutional initiative hinders the country’s European integration and goes against its core values.

The law prohibiting “LGBT propaganda” was adopted in Russia in 2013  and initially prohibited “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. At the time, Putin  said that this was not about banning the use of the LGBT flag, he himself knew and worked with members of the queer community, and there was nothing alarming about it. He talked about famous gay musicians and referred to them with respect. The leaders of the Georgian Dream have similar rhetoric.

In June 2020, the Legislative Council of Russia adopted  a proposal for changes to the law, the purpose of which was to “prohibit the promotion of non-traditional values” among the entire population, not only among minors. In 2022, the law was tightened again and “LGBT propaganda” was completely banned –  specifically , the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations”, transition and pedophilia [it should be noted that pedophilia is a crime and it has nothing to do with sexual orientation – Aprili Media editorial]. Also, “propaganda” in social networks, media, cinema, advertising was banned. Simply put, censorship was imposed. For example, according to the law, films in which the “propaganda” of queer relationships, pedophilia or transition can be seen are no longer given a distribution certificate. In case of violation, there are fines, and websites disseminating such information are included in the register of prohibited sites and blocked.

The severity of the restrictions did not end there. In 2023,  the criteria of “propaganda”  were written into the law, even if one of them was met, the website would be blocked.

Russia’s experience shows us that the law announced with the motive of protecting children has finally become an instrument of maximum limitation and discrimination of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Read in more detail on this topic: What Georgian Dream Is Trying to “Protect” before Elections, Russia “Protected” Already — See How