The Georgian Orthodox Church is to host 400 marriages on 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). The Church declared 17 May the Family Purity Day in 2014, a year after a priests-led rally attacked a small group of queer rights activists who gathered to protest discrimination.
The mass wedding will be organised by the Patriarchate’s Chokhosnebi, a conservative group famous for wearing traditional Georgian male dress chokha and advocating ‘Georgian traditions’ and ‘family values’.
Zviad Sekhniashvili, the head of the group told Netgazeti they were hosting the mass wedding on 17 May on purpose. Sekhniashvili also said that they would give priority to couples who already lived together but didn’t get married yet.
According to Sekhniashvili, 20 couples will get married in a ceremony in Tbilisi and up to 400 couples will get married in the country.
It is expected that queer rights activists will hold a demonstration on the same day to mark IDAHOT.
In 2017, Georgia’s Parliament adopted a package of constitutional amendments, one of which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This definition already existed in the law and since queer rights groups never demanded equal marriage rights, they accused the Parliament of populism.
Georgia’s Public Defender has called on the government to legally recognise same-sex relationships, for example with civil partnerships. In their 2017 report, the Public Defender also denounced recent constitutional changes defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
[Read more about Ombudsman’s report on queer rights in Georgia on OC Media: Public defender urges Georgia to adopt civil partnerships for queer couples]
The 2 April report said the amendments to the constitution will worsen homophobia and spread hatred in society. It said that unless queer relationships are legally recognised, the constitution ‘will contradict the standards of the European Court of Human Rights and the OSCE’s recommendations’.
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