In parallel to endorsing an anti-discrimination bill, which will now be submitted to Parliament for confirmation, the Georgian government has also proposed to define marriage in the constitution as a “union of man and woman.”
The proposal, as PM Irakli Garibashvili put it, aims at avoiding “speculation” over the planned anti-discrimination legislation, which will provide protection against discrimination on the ground of, among others, sexual orientation. Adoption of this legislation is among requirements set in Georgia’s Visa Liberalisation Action Plan with the EU.
Article 36 of the Georgian constitution currently reads: “Marriage shall be based upon equality of rights and free will of spouses.” Same-sex marriage is already banned in Georgia’s civil code, which defines marriage as “voluntary union of man and woman.”
“Anti-discrimination legislation has been drafted… which reflects tradition of tolerance of the Georgian people for which Georgia is known for centuries,” PM Garibashvili told a government session on March 28.
“Everyone has the right to have own way of life. I understand there might be differing approaches, but I think that it should not become a topic for speculation. So I offer to the state constitutional commission to consider the proposal of including a wording in the constitution, defining family as a union of man and woman,” Garibashvili said, referring to the commission which was convened earlier this month with the task to draft broader constitutional amendments by September.
The PM also said that although existing legislation already provides such definition, “it would be preferable to have a provision in the constitution in order to avoid wrong interpretations”.
“We have discussed this issue at the political council of [Georgian Dream] coalition and the initiative has been endorsed unanimously,” he continued. “The most important is that this is the right of our nation.”
He also said that the proposed anti-discrimination legislation, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, “does not create any new rights for anyone; it does not provide privilege to any group of the society and it does not deprive any right or privilege from anyone either.”
“This legislation ensures for everyone to equally use the rights that we already have under the constitution and other legislation. Every person is our citizen and we are obliged to protect rights of each and every citizen no matter of differences,” the PM said.
EU’s annual progress report on Georgia, which was released on March 27, said that the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation is “expected to prove controversial.”
This is not the first time when a proposal of setting a constitutional bar to same-sex marriage emerges. Ahead of last year’s presidential election, then leader of Christian-Democratic Movement, Giorgi Targamadze, made the proposal part of his election campaign, collecting citizens’ signatures for introducing constitutional amendments.