Public Defender’s Statement on Coronavirus-related Regulations
The Public Defender considers that the regulations introduced by the Government of Georgia relating to the novel coronavirus, which prohibit movement and presence in public space from November 28, 2020 to January 31, 2021, including after 21:00, may be discriminatory against non-dominant religious associations. It should be noted that the restriction does not apply to the 6 January Christmas night, while other religious holidays, which may also be celebrated at night in the same period, are not mentioned in the statement issued by the Government.
The Public Defender notes that it is important that the regulations imposed by the state be applied equally to all religious associations to ensure that they can exercise their freedom of religion on an equal basis. By giving unjustified preference to any religious association, the legitimacy of depriving other associations of the same right remains unclear.
Therefore, the Public Defender calls on the Government of Georgia to consider the possibility of making an exception to the above rule on the religious holidays that are celebrated overnight.