May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). In Georgia, this day has become a day of gathering and manifestation of LGBTQ people in public space and it has been one of the clearest examples of manifestation of the state homophobia from year to year. The severity of the daily lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer people and the neglect of the real needs of community members by the state became even more apparent in 2020, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attempts to celebrate May 17 in public space show that, in addition of not being allowed to exercise the right to assemble and demonstrate, LGBTQ activists living in Georgia, community organizations, or supporters are not allowed to draw public attention to the real challenges and needs faced by the community. The reason for this is, first of all, the lack of security guarantees from the state and the mobilisation of violent groups, which in turn are supported by state agencies, as well as by the Patriarchate of Georgia.
In various years, the approaching IDAHOT was accompanied by homo / bi / transphobic hate speech, heard from governmental or parliamentary tribunes. In addition, the output of certain media outlets directly encouraged discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, and contributed to the strengthening of the already firmly rooted stigma in the society towards LGBTQ people.
In addition to the gathering and manifestation of the LGBTQ community in public spaces, May 17 in different countries is marked to raise awareness regarding various needs of the community among general public. LGBTQ community and non-governmental organizations working in Georgia have been trying, from year to year, to give more importance to the May 17, and this date has become an illustrative day for the challenges faced by the community. However, in the face of a number of obstacles, this could not have been achieved and IDAHOT remains the day of demonstration of homophobia by the state and society.
On May 1, 2020, the Coalition already responded to the needs of the LGBTQ community, left out from the anti-crisis plan developed by the state, and called on the state to “begin a transparent process of developing an inclusive social policy project that addresses systemically the challenges of the most vulnerable groups, both in the post-crisis period and in the long run."1
A number of challenges facing the LGBTQ community, which includes reporting cases for specific discrimination incidents, lack of protection and support services for victims of hate crimes, deficiencies in reporting the family violence, and intimate partner violence, absence of regulation concerning the civic partnership and legal gender recognition, neglect of a number of issues related to healthcare of transgender people, absence of sexual orientation and gender identity related topics in the education system, have completely been ignored by the state. The above-mentioned issues were not considered at all in the Government Action Plan for Human Rights (2018-2020)2. In 2020, Chapter 15 of the plan has been approved, which does not address the main challenges faced by the community.
In view of the above-described situation, the Coalition for Equality calls on the State to:
• Ensure that the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression are integrated in all human rights policy documents and pursue a unified policy aimed at the realization of the right of LGBTQ people to equality;
• Develop a strategy against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia together with LGBTQ activists, community or support organizations, and carry out a number of measures for public healthcare and social security, education, protection from violence and discrimination, freedom of assembly in public spaces, and other tasks.