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Georgia’s ruling party proposes new law cracking down on LGBT rights

GEORGIA’S ruling party introduced a bill curtailing LGBT rights, a move seen by opponents as an attempt to boost its popularity ahead of elections in the conservative South Caucasus country, a candidate for European Union membership.

The draft law would ban sex changes and adoption by same-sex couples, as well as prohibiting “gatherings aimed at popularising same-sex family or intimate relationships”, according to a summary published by the Georgian Dream party.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the party’s parliamentary caucus and a driving force behind the bill, said the law was necessary to protect “family values and our future generations” from what he called “pseudo-liberal values”.

In a post on Facebook, the Tbilisi Pride LGBT rights organisation called the proposed bill “homophobic”.

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The country’s opposition has said that Georgian Dream’s anti-LGBT agenda is an attempt to shore up its support among conservatives and distract voters from economic problems ahead of parliamentary elections due by October.

Georgian Dream is ahead of other parties in the polls but has lost support since 2020, when it won a narrow parliamentary majority. In his briefing, Mdinaradze said the bill would likely pass only after the elections.

A predominantly Orthodox Christian nation, Georgia is deeply socially conservative, with polls showing a large majority of the population disapprove of same-sex relationships.

In recent years, Tbilisi’s annual Pride march has become a flashpoint, with far-right protesters attacking LGBT activists. Georgia’s constitution has banned same-sex marriage since 2018.

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Georgia’s Interpress news agency cited Mdinaradze as telling journalists that the bill could mean Pride marches and displays of the rainbow flag would be banned if they were deemed to promote same-sex relationships.

Georgia obtained EU candidate status in December, achieving a long-standing goal.

But critics both within the country and in Western nations have in recent years accused successive Georgian Dream governments of authoritarian tendencies and excessive closeness to neighbouring Russia.

Both Russia and Hungary, an EU member state that has faced accusations of authoritarianism from foreign and domestic critics, have previously introduced their own laws against what their governments describe as LGBT propaganda.

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By FELIX LIGHT

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