Public Defender’s Statement on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. On this day, LGBT+ people, activists and supporters once again remind the public of the importance of equality and call for their solidarity.
Unfortunately, with the increase in the visibility of the LGBT+ community in recent years, the number of violations of their rights has also increased, which is often ineffectively responded by the State. The lack of state policy and vision relating to the rights situation of LGBT+ people encourages human rights violations, including discriminatory crimes, against them.
It is alarming that the lives and health of LGBT+ people are still in danger, as evidenced by recent attacks. The death threats against LGBT+ human rights activists, damages to their offices and other offences are becoming daily occurrences.
It is still problematic for the State to plan preventive measures to protect the physical integrity, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of LGBT+ people. Activists have been fighting for years to get public spaces for safe gathering on May 17. As the State fails to provide them with adequate protection from far-right groups, activists have to change the place, time and format of demonstration each time, which harms the essence of their protest and jeopardizes their safety.
The legal and political inaction of the State has further aggravated the (already difficult) socio-economic situation of this community during the new coronavirus pandemic. Access to health care and employment, adequate housing and other needs have been left out of the anti-crisis plan developed by the Georgian Government. As a result, part of the community encountered the problem of homelessness, while others had to return to their homophobic families, which put them at risk of domestic violence.
The rights situation of transgender people is particularly difficult. They encountered substantial difficulties in social life due to the record in the legislation requiring transgender people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to change the gender record in their ID cards. Barriers to access to employment and education are particularly affecting the rights situation of transgender people.
The Public Defender once again calls on the relevant governmental agencies and officials to take effective preventive and responsive actions against alleged crimes and violations committed against LGBT+ people; plan activities to raise awareness of equality in society; make public statements in support of vulnerable groups, including the LGBT+ community.