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Public Defender of Georgia Addresses the Statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia regarding Pride

Public Defender of Georgia addresses the Statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia of May 31, 2019 regarding the meeting with the organizers of Tbilisi Pride. According to the Ministry, conducting events in the planned areas and format is impossible considering the risks related to the involved individuals. According to the organizers Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia offered them to move Pride to a closed location.

Public Defender would like to underline that holding peaceful assembly and manifestation is a right guaranteed by the constitution. State is under an obligation to ensure its full realization by the peaceful demonstrators and to protect them from private persons with the mobilization of all relevant resources.

In case specific grounds for restricting freedom of assembly exists, Ministry of Internal Affairs is obliged to justify that the restriction serves the attainment of interests protected by the constitution, is necessary in a democratic society, is indiscriminate and proportional and protected interests exceed harm caused by the measure of restraint. Unfortunately a general statement published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs cannot be considered as such justified decision.

It is also noteworthy to mention that LGBT+ community and their human rights defenders have been unable to assembly in a free environment for years already, which is in close correlation with the society’s high homophobic attitudes. Taking into consideration these factors, Public Defender deems it necessary that State facilitates decreasing such attitude within the society to the maximum extent possible.

Obligation to take preventive measures for full realization of freedom of peaceful assembly by the LGBT+ community and their human right defenders is also indicated in the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 2015 on “Identoba and Others v Georgia”. According to the judgment, considering the attitude of part of Georgian society toward sexual minorities, state authorities “were under an obligation to use any means possible, for instance by making public statements in advance of the demonstration to advocate, without any ambiguity, a tolerant, conciliatory stance as well as to warn potential law-breakers of the nature of possible sanctions” before the peaceful demonstration of May 17, 2012. Furthermore, the said judgement of the European Court of Human Rights states that, it would have been prudent if the domestic authorities, given the likelihood of street clashes, had ensured more police manpower by mobilising, for instance, a squad of anti-riot police.

Therefore, Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to conduct preparatory work before the Pride and to undertake all necessary measures to ensure full realization of freedom of peaceful assembly by citizens. In case the exercise of this right is restricted in accordance with the grounds prescribed by law, it needs to justify its decision accordingly. Furthermore, to fully comply with the obligation, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia needs to continue communication with the organizers of Tbilisi Pride.

Public Defender would like to express her concern on the fact that as stated by the LGBT+ community, Ministry of Internal Affairs does not have proper communication with the community. She expressed readiness to get involved in the process to ensure timely exchange of information between the parties.

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