Parliament approved on March 27 with its third and final reading an amendment to the criminal code making the racial, religious, sexual orientation or other bias motives of an offender an aggravating circumstance to be taken into account by the courts.
Aggravating circumstances, according to amendment, will apply to any offense motivated by “race, colour, language, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, political and other views, disability, citizenship, national origin, ethnicity, social identity, origin, property and other status, place of residence or other discriminatory grounds and intolerance.”
The amendment was made in response to recommendations from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a human rights body of the Council of Europe, which has been calling on Georgia to enact legislation providing for racist motivation to constitute a general aggravating circumstance applicable to all types of offenses.
The initial proposal was prepared at the Civic Integration and Tolerance Council at the President of Georgia, followed by broad discussions with civil society groups and stakeholders, including in the regions in cooperation with the Public Defender’s Council of National Minorities in frames of USAID project.
In the process of further discussions in the Parliament, upon the recommendations of civil society groups the draft was amended to include not only ethnic, racial or religious factors in the list of discriminatory grounds but also sexual orientation.