Following Parliament’s approval of the anti-discrimination bill with its second reading, the Georgian Orthodox Church released a statement saying that it has yet to “analyze” the final version of the bill.
The bill was amended during the second reading in the Parliament on May 1 following a meeting between senior GD lawmakers and Orthodox clerics. But “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”, which the Georgian Orthodox Church wanted to be removed from the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, remain in the legislation. Among the changes introduced during the second hearing was inclusion of a wording “public moral” in the bill.
“Wrong opinion is being spread as if after introduction of certain amendments the anti-discrimination bill became acceptable for the Church. The Patriarchate cannot agree with the new version of the bill because we have had no chance yet to analyze the recent version of the draft. It would be inappropriate on the part of the Church to make hasty conclusions on such a serious issues based only on conversations and clerics’ comments,” reads Patriarchate’s statement.
“Negative aspects of the bill, which was initially presented to the Parliament, were obvious. Now the situation has changed and it requires a more serious study and conclusion from specialists (legal experts, psychologists, experts of international law).”
“We are grateful to the Prime Minister of Georgia for showing understanding towards cautious [stance] of the Church, but we also want to add that in this situation the Church was and is protecting interests of not only clerics, but also of Orthodox believers, as well as interests and rights of part of the population (regardless of their faith) for whom protection of moral norms represents substantial necessity,” reads the statement.
The Parliament is expected to discuss and adopt the anti-discrimination bill with its third and final reading on Friday.