Georgia introduces Russian-style crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights

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Same-sex couples would be stripped of their rights under terms of a new draft law put forward by Georgia’s ruling party.

The move marks yet another major break between the European Union and the candidate country in the South Caucasus.

On Tuesday, Shalva Papuashvili — the speaker of Georgia’s parliament and one of the leaders of the governing Georgian Dream faction — brought forward a package of legislation targeting so-called “LGBT propaganda.”

As part of the proposed crackdown, same-sex marriages would not be registered and only “heterosexuals” would be allowed to adopt children. Changing gender would be outlawed, as would any “medical manipulation for the purpose of gender reassignment,” Papuashvili said.

At the same time, references to LGBTQ+ people would be erased from public spaces.

Schools would be banned from making available information that supposedly “promotes belonging to the opposite sex, same-sex relations or incest.”

Broadcasters, advertisers and movie theaters will also be ordered to redact any content that features same-sex relationships, regardless of the intended age of the audience, before broadcast.

Neighboring Russia has introduced similar bans on what it claims amounts to “propaganda” against traditional values, last year effectively outlawing “the international LGBTQ+ public movement,” and targeting individuals and organizations in the community.

Georgia’s decision comes days after it passed a Russian-inspired law that would label Western NGOs as “foreign agents,” paving the way for them to be delegitimized and targeted with arduous financial audits.

The EU warned that the decision, which has drawn tens of thousands of people onto the streets in recent weeks, would effectively torpedo Georgia’s chances of joining the bloc — just six months after it was handed candidate status.

Brussels has demanded Georgia’s government do more to protect human rights, including the rights of marginalized communities.

The leadership of the governing Georgian Dream party has accused its Western partners of using nongovernmental organizations to spread “LGBT propaganda,” stage a coup and drag the country into conflict with Russia — echoing the Kremlin’s talking points.