On July 3rd, Informational Agency “Patriot” shared the statement of Dimitri Lortkipanidze – Director of Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Centre, which concerned the planned Pride March in Tbilisi. Lortkipanidze states that the 5th paragraph of Article 17 of the Georgian Constitution, in addition to the state Law on Freedom of Speech and Expression, permits the Government to cancel the “LGBT parade” planned on July 5th.
The statement of Dimitri Lortkipanidze is misleading, as the restriction mentioned in the 5th paragraph of Article 17 of the Georgian Constitution does not apply to the Pride March. The Georgian Law on Assemblies and Manifestations clearly states that public assemblies can only be restricted when propagating violence and instantiating feuds. On the other hand, the Law on the Freedom of Speech and Expression clarifies that any given restraint of law should not have a discriminatory nature. In addition, the interpretation of the law is being enacted based on the international legislative responsibilities overtaken by Georgia, among which is the European Convention, which stresses the responsibility of a state to protect the rights of peaceful assembly aimed to safeguard the rights of LGBTQ people.
Paragraph 1 of Article 17 of the Georgian Constitution guarantees the protection of freedom and expression of thought. However, paragraph 5 of the same article allows the restriction of the same freedom for the purposes of ensuring state and civil security, protecting territorial integrity, avoiding strictly confidential information or/and guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary.
Lortkipanidze manipulates using the same paragraph while claiming that the state can acquire the right not to permit the Pride March. Nonetheless, Article 11 of the Georgian Law on Assemblies and Manifestations clearly states the conditions under which the Government can do so:
- Call towards overthrowing or violently changing the constitutional order of the Georgian state
- Call towards breaching the independence or the territorial integrity of the country
- Propagation of war or violence
- Call towards instigating national, regional, religious or social feud
- Call posing a direct and material danger to the action determined by the same paragraph
Given definition demonstrates that the predetermined aim of the Pride March, which represents an amalgamation of demands towards the protection of LGBTQ people and raising awareness about their respective rights, does not fit within the established criteria. Therefore, the state is unable to acquire the right to ban the Pride March.
To further clarify the following, “Myth Detector” has contacted Giorgi Meladze – Professor of Law at Ilia State University. He stressed that the Law on Freedom of Speech and Expression regulates assemblies that pose an imminent danger but in no way bans them. The Law restricts the rights of those who initiate violence.
The following can be further supported by Articles 2 and 8 of the Law of Georgia on Freedom of Speech and Expression and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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