Patriarch calls on Parliament to postpone adoption of anti-discrimination law

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The Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II called on the Parliament to postpone adoption of the anti-discrimination law with the present form. In a statement released on 28 April, Ilia II said that while discussing the draft law, the Parliament "should ensure the involvement of the Church and the broad public, in order to achieve an agreement and to avoid the hasty actions influencing negatively on the country's European aspirations." The Secretary of the Patriarch, Archpriest Michael Botkoveli read out the Patriarch's statement, and pointed out that the Patriarchate is ready to participate in discussions with the interested sides.

According to the statement, the Georgian Orthodox Church considers violence and discrimination "unacceptable", as the Christian religion "is the religion of love" and "is based on love and mutual respect." However, the Patriarch stresses that "introducing the terms 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' - the terms not included in the Constitution of Georgia - into the draft law which is so important for the development of the country, triggers tension among the people, as personal rights of our citizens are already equally defended with the current legislation in Georgia."

According to the Patriarch, "following the commandments of God, the believers rightly consider non-traditional sexual relations as a deadly sin, and consider the draft law in its present form as a propaganda and legalization of this sin." The statement says that, according to the society, the draft law puts under doubt "main theories of all recognized religions."

"This creates a threat of discrimination of wide groups of public. The European Union, which is a space that unites different nations and religions, states that it recognizes the cultures and traditions of different peoples, and in terms of Georgia, it is ready to take into account and respect our values. The demands of this draft law contradict those principles," the statement reads.

The Parliament of Georgia passed the anti-discrimination law with first reading on 17 April with 110 votes against 0. The lawmakers are planning discuss the details of the draft law at the second hearing at the Parliament. According to the Paragraph 2, Article 5 of the draft law, none of the articles of the anti-discrimination law should be interpreted contrary to the Constitutional Agreement between the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The draft law was discussed by the Legal Issues and the Human Rights Parliamentary Committees. Members of the non-Parliamentary opposition, NGOs, clerics and members of the Orthodox Parents Union attended the discussions.

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