We, member organizations of the "No to phobia” platform, would like to respond to the nomination of the MP Manana Kobakhidze, whose several recent statements contained elements of intolerance and discrimination, for the position of the judge of the Constitutional Court of Georgia by the parliamentary majority. Taking into consideration the fact that authorities have publicly declared support to antidiscrimination policies, the fact of nomination of such candidacy for the position at the most important national institution for the protection of human rights and freedoms which has recently delivered several rather progressive judgments regarding equality rights protection causes our genuine concern.
Statements of the MP are distinguished by their pronounced homophobic and non-secular nature. For instance, in one of her statements Manana Kobakhidze utters that she will have an explicit reaction and approach to each and every fact of the violation of LGBT rights; however, simultaneously, she admits the following: "As a citizen of this country and as an Orthodox Christian, I have a right to have an opinion and the right to express this opinion. In case I am not a lesbian, what? What can I do then?”
Worth mentioning is that in the same interview Manana Kobakhidze speaks about the episode which took place at TV Kavkasia when a number of radical individuals known for their intolerance and violence towards different non-dominant groups hampered the live broadcasting with their aggressive actions. Manana Kobakhidze openly expresses her support and sympathy towards them:” [..] these individuals had their freedom of expression; particular propaganda was unacceptable for them, namely, gay and lesbian propaganda which is unacceptable for Christian ethics - that’s what I have said. I have not made up the fact that Christianity considers sodomy and lesbianism as sins. It is written in the gospels, Holy Fathers were saying this, Christ was saying this, I have not made up anything. I’ve just said that boys expressed their particular opinion towards individuals of different orientation which perfectly fits into their freedom of expression. What is acceptable in Europe might be unacceptable for Orthodox Christianity. These boys were just expressing their opinion and were not committing any crime. But this case was used as if it was for the protection of minority rights; this is the whole background of the interview. They used it completely out of context, as if in Europe the minority rights are protected while in Georgia they are unacceptable. Sodomy and lesbianism are unacceptable not only for us but for all Orthodox Christians.”
This is only one out of several similar statements made by this candidate where she explicitly expresses her hostile attitude towards different groups of Georgian citizens as well as her support towards openly xenophobic and homophobic radical groups.
Constitution of Georgia declares fundamental principle of equality which is the main objective as well as the foundation of democratic and liberal society. Respect of this principle is a cornerstone of an adequate evaluation of a future judge who is planning to participate in the process of delivering important judgments on protection of human rights and freedoms during upcoming 10 years. Respect for the constitutional principle of equality is revealed not only in fulfillment of particular legal requirements, but also entails steady loyalty towards specific values. Thus, while deciding on judge’s candidacy, authorities must pay special attention to the following aspects: what is a nominee’s perception of proper and adequate protection of equality right; also, what is his / her knowledge of the essence of fundamental rights and freedoms declared in the Constitution of Georgia.
Taking into the consideration the aforementioned circumstances, we, the co-signatories to this statement, express our thorough concern about professionalism as well as moral values of this candidate. We believe, in case Manana Kobakhidze is elected for this position, this would be perceived as a certain message by the society and will negatively influence already poor human rights situation in general and minority rights situation in particular in the country. Therefore, we address the Parliament of Georgia with the request to take the aforementioned opinion into their consideration when deciding on the matter.
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS)
Transparency International - Georgia (TI)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA)