Georgia’s Ruling Party Supports Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

TBILISI - Leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition on Monday agreed to support a constitutional ban on same-sex unions and uphold the current civil code’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Members of the coalition agreed during Monday’s meeting of the party’s political council to submit a draft bill to the parliament in the coming days.

Same-sex marriage is already banned under Georgia’s civil code, which defines marriage as a voluntary union between a man and woman. The wording of the Georgian constitution, however, vaguely refers to the basis of marriage as the equality of rights and free will of two consenting spouses.

“We have a pending initiative that would guarantee the protection of the sacred institution of marriage, via the constitution,” Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said.

The Republican Party was the sole dissenter in the six-member coalition, though they remain open to supporting the amendment if certain technical details regarding its implementation are better defined.

In a statement released prior to the meeting, the Republicans said they oppose a constitutional amendment that would legally define marriage as between a man and woman as it would unnecessarily inflame the issue.

An initiative to legally define marriage was originally proposed former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in March 2014 as part of an overall discussion regarding anti-discrimination laws.

Rights groups in Georgia have argued that despite a legalization of same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian couples would be unable to register their unions due to the country’s conservative mores.

Georgian religious groups, including the Union of Orthodox Parents, and the highly influential head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, have publicly criticized sexual minority groups, branding their activities as “gay propaganda”.

Echoing his counterpart, Moscow Patriarch Kirill, Ilia has repeatedly called on Georgians to respect the country’s 1,700 year-old Orthodox values.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

08 March 2016 15:59