Time to end invisibility of LGBT people in Georgia - expertBack

GENEVA (5 October 2018) - A UN expert has commended the commitment of the Georgian Government to address violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans persons, but has expressed concern that implementation is falling short of what is urgently needed.

The UN Independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz said beatings were commonplace, harassment and bullying constant, and exclusion from family, education, work and health settings appear to be commonplace.

“The majority of Georgians who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans face dilemmas: leaving the country or staying and taking one of two paths: revealing their true self and be subjected to certain violence and discrimination, or concealing this essential aspect of their identity and living in a world of deception,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

“In recent years, the Government has taken significant steps to address the situation of LGBT people, which are among the most discriminated and vulnerable communities in Georgia,” he said in a statement at the end of his 11-day visit to Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi regions.

Madrigal-Borloz said trans persons, particularly trans women, find it difficult to access State services, a challenge exacerbated by abusive requirements for legal recognition of their gender identity, and disempowerment resulting from reliance on the opinion of medical doctors, unnecessary on this matter.

The expert met a wide range of stakeholders from Government and civil society, and many LGBT people shared with him life experiences and stories. One of them, a gay man, told Madrigal-Borloz: “some people tell us that this change will take 30 years. But I am 34 years old! I cannot wait 30 more years to be free!”

The Independent Expert also met with high-level representatives of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church and other religious leaders, including the Mufti of All Muslims of Georgia and the Chairman of the Jewish Council of Georgia. “Despite differences of opinion, I am encouraged that during all of these meetings we identified a basic common ground: violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are never justified and must be condemned and discouraged. Active dialogue is one of the guiding principles for my mandate, and I am delighted to have been able to deploy this approach so actively during this visit,” said Madrigal-Borloz.

“The Government of Georgia has already taken the most important step: recognising the eradication of violence and discrimination as one of its main priorities, and firmly declaring sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds. I encourage the authorities to continue along this path; I am convinced that respect, peaceful coexistence and tolerance are cherished Georgian values and I am certain that they will provide a foundation where all Georgians who happen to be gay, lesbian, trans or bisexual will live free and equal.”

ENDS

Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three years period starting on 1 January 2018. He serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica). 

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Georgia (during the visit): Catherine de Preux De Baets (+995 599 570 786 - cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (after the visit): Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 93 27 - cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact 
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org) 

UN Human Rights country page: Georgia 

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages –is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.