Georgian Parliament Passes First Reading of Russian-Style Anti-LGBT Legislation

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 21 Issue: 101


Executive summary:

  • Following the adoption of the “foreign agents” law in Georgia, the ruling Georgian Dream party has adopted the first reading of a bill and 18 legislative acts restricting the rights of sexual minorities.
  • Georgian experts believe this legislation plays on the conservative views of some Georgians and corresponds to the Kremlin’s strategy of promoting anti-Western “pseudo-values” in the so-called “Russian world” that allegedly violate fundamental human rights.
  •  While the adoption of this legislation could compromise Georgia’s integration into the European Union, Georgian civil society and the opposition are afraid to actively oppose it to avoid provoking the conservative majority before the October parliamentary elections.

On June 27, the Georgian Dream party, which holds a parliamentary majority, passed the first reading of an anti-LGBT legislative package consisting of the core bill, “On Protection of Family Values and Minors,” and related amendments to various Georgia laws. The package passed with 78 votes in favor and none against (, June 27). A few days before the voting, Tbilisi Pride, an organization that represents the Georgian LGBT community, said that this year’s Pride Month would pass without any physical events. This was in line with the organization’s decision last fall in anticipation of the pre-election period being “filled with physical violence encouraged by the government and rhetoric filled with hate and hostility.” The organization stated that “after ‘Georgian Dream’ adopted the Russian-style law on ‘foreign agents’ and announced a hate-based anti-LGBT legislative package alongside constitutional changes, we are even more confident in our decision.” The statement adds that the fight for LGBT rights is inseparable from the Georgian people’s broader struggle against the Russian-style Georgian Dream regime. It stresses, “This struggle will inevitably end in favor of the people on October 26,” the scheduled date for the upcoming parliamentary elections (, June 14).

Tbilisi Pride says it will use the coming months before elections “to bring the message of queer people to more hearts than ever before.” The organization’s leaders added, “We will explain to everyone that homophobia is a Russian political weapon against Georgian society and against the statehood of Georgia” (, June 15).

The Georgian Dream package includes the core bill and 18 related amendments to various Georgian laws, including those related to labor and education. The legislation includes numerous regulations against Georgia’s LGBT community, including:

  •  A ban on “alternative” forms of marriage;
  • The prevention of “those who identify as different from their sex” and non-heterosexual people, including single people, from adopting a child;
  • A prohibition on identifying a person’s sex as “different from their gender” in documents issued by the state;
  •  A ban on gender reassignment surgery or other types of gender-based medical manipulations;
  •  A ban on “LGBT propaganda” in educational institutions, in particular, the dissemination of such information that is “aimed at promoting belonging to the opposite sex, same-sex relations, or incest”;
  • A prohibition on gatherings and demonstrations if their purpose is “to promote” a person’s identification with a gender “other than their own,” same-sex relationships, or incest;
  • A ban on broadcasting information aimed at “promoting the identification of a person with a different sex, same-sex relations or incest.”

This last measure applies only to the extent that it is not permissible to broadcast scenes depicting intimate relations between representatives of the same sex or scenes of incest. Advertising of the same content is also prohibited (Radiotavisupleba, June 4).

Georgian Member of Parliament Roman Gotsiridze, one of the co-founders of Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement party, said in a June 20 interview with this author that the anti-LGBT legislation could be even more indicative of Georgian Dream’s turn away from the West and toward Russia. He stated, “Over the course of 25 years, Putin’s regime has developed several ‘codes’ and ‘markers’ to identify regimes similar and close to it not only in the post-Soviet space but throughout the world.” He further argued, “One such ‘code’ and ‘symbol of loyalty to Moscow’ is the ‘foreign influence law’ and the second is laws against sexual minorities.”

According to Gotsiridze, Putin is trying to turn these “codes” into indicators for the consolidation of the so-called “Russian world.” In Georgia, the ruling party has already accepted or is ready to accept both of these “markers” as symbols of loyalty to the Kremlin. Gotsiridze recalled that in the communist era, the “symbol of loyalty” to Moscow was the slogan “proletarians of all countries unite.” In the modern era, this symbol includes homophobia, transphobia, and the “protection of morality and families” from non-existent threats, as well as reliance on religious fundamentalists. “Georgian Dream has finally accepted these rules of the game,” Gotsiridze concluded (Author’s interview, June 20).

A segment of the Georgian population is especially concerned that the new legislation will introduce censorship in the arts for the first time since 1992, when the country became independent. Philologist, specialist, and translator of ancient Greek literature Levan Berdzenishvili, who was arrested in the communist era for “anti-Soviet activity,” is concerned that the new type of censorship may lead to the ban of “the pearls of world literature and cinematography.” He also expressed hope that Georgian society as a whole “is more pro-European and progressive than the government, who uses homophobia as an instrument of power” (Author’s interview, June 19).

The main issue for the Georgian opposition and civil society in fighting against anti-LGBT legislation is the conservative attitude of a significant part of the electorate. David Avalishvili of independent media outlet said in a June 19 interview with this author that for most in the opposition, “it was much more comfortable and safer” to oppose the “foreign agents” law than to openly defend the rights of the LGBT community. “They are afraid of losing votes during the elections on October 26.” He further stipulated, “This is strange and sad because the legislation against sexual minorities can block Georgia’s path to the European Union even more firmly than the ‘foreign agents’ law” (Author’s interview, June 19).

Political scientist David Zurabishvili recalled that the Georgian pro-western opposition completely boycotted the discussion of homophobic legislation in parliament “although the ruling party accused them of supporting immorality and fighting against the fundamental laws of the church” (Author’s interview, June 20).

Historically, protecting LGBT rights in Georgia is associated with significant risk. The 2021 Pride March was canceled due to the government’s failure to provide adequate security (, July 5, 2021). That year, at least 20 journalists were physically attacked by violent far-right groups holding a counter-rally to the planned march. A cameraman from TV Pirveli, Lekso Lashkarava, died a few days later after being physically attacked while covering the rally (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, July 11, 2021;, December 22, 2021). Earlier, on May 17, 2013, LGBT groups gathered to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia with a march but were attacked by members of a violent mob, including clergy (, May 17, 2013). The following year, the Georgian Orthodox Church proclaimed May 17 as Family Purity Day (, May 17, 2014, May 17; Civil Society Foundation, May 17, 2021). Georgian Dream’s new legislation proclaimed Family Purity Day as a religious date and state holiday (, June 4).

The resilience of the LGBT movement in Georgia, demonstrated by the continued gatherings and push for visibility despite violent opposition, shows that not all Georgians agree with Georgian Dream’s policies. The Georgian parliament’s decision to further discriminate against the LGBT community and non-traditional people follow Russia’s similar policies and show that the ruling party’s actions are not only about repression but also about appeasing the Kremlin and turning away from the West.