Homophobia: from private to public space


Eka Agdgomelashvili – Women’s Initiative Supporting Group;
Paata Sabelashvili – Inclusive Foundation;
Nodar Sarjveladze – Psychologist, The head of the Christian-Democratic Institute.
Facilitation: Nino Danelia

What does homophobia mean?
What is the state’s position and how has the attitude of the society changed towards this subject?
What are results of researches?
Are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered given an opportunity of representing themselves?
What is the ground of this form of phobia?
What international documents have been signed by Georgia?
How is legislation in this aspect? 

On May 20, 2009 speakers of the debates and the audience expressed their opinions on the above mentioned topics at the Office of Heinrich Boell Foundation, however unlike other debates they were not given an opportunity to speak on these subjects without a fuss. Is the Georgian society homophobe today and is the subject of sexual minority still under a taboo - the debates answered this question. 
At the beginning of the debates Nino Lejava, Program Coordinator of the Southern Caucasus Regional Office of Heinrich Boell Foundation has reminded the audience that this restricted subject has been violated for the first time in 2005 when the Office of Heinrich Boell Foundation held public debates on this subject. 

As mentioned by moderator Nino Lejava, the debates were dedicated to 17th of May, International Day against Homophobia. Nino Lejava gave the audience the explanation of homophobia saying that it is an irrational fear and hatred towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered, based on predisposition and looks like racism, xenophobia and sexism.

This day has already been celebrated for 5 years as an International Day against Homophobia. This year this formulation has been added trans-phobia too, as very often lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered are included in one group. The society has no information that lesbians, gays and bisexuals differ from other people by their orientation, while transgendered by gender identity. That’s why this year this day is officially formulated as an International Day against Homophobia and trans-phobia, Paata Sabelashvili, Director of the Fund “Inclusive” has explained at the beginning of the debates.

Afterwards Paata Sabelashvili mentioned that Georgia tries not to confirm openly homophobia and maintain a good image with the Western European and Northern American organizations, structures and funds in terms of priorities of foreign politics. However, it often happens on a declaration level and does not mean that Georgia is taking operative measures for eradication of homophobia in the country.           

In order to be in compliance with declarative values, certain steps are to be taken for preventing homophobia in the country. But there are a lot of preventive factors, for instance legislation. There are only a few documents mentioning homosexuality, as a status according to which human discrimination is not allowed. The Georgian legislation does not know important conception such as “hatred motivated crime”, “hatred language”. 

Eka Agdgomelashvili, the second speaker of the debates offered the audience media analyzing considering that tendencies appearing in media are spread on the whole society and media plays an important role on the public opinion.

Eka Agdgomelashvili figured out several basic tendencies:

1. For public-political press it was of crucial importance not homosexuality but the process of turning nontraditional sexuality as a public problem. There were presented general discussions on homosexuality by means of invited experts and lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered were given less opportunity to represent themselves.
2. In analytical publications non-heterosexual activity was generally discussed in a medical aspect. 
3. Homophobia was not identified as a social problem.
4. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered were able to represent themselves only by means of yellow press; however the majority of their respondents were negatively presented. Correspondingly, prototypes presented by them only strengthened a negative side of homosexuals.

Taking into consideration important changes taking place in media over the last period, potential indicator of negative evaluation has considerably changed (from 65%to 86%) comparing to the previous years. However, positive evaluation has appeared as well (21%).

Psychologist Nodar Sarjveladze spoke about the basis of homophobia. Affectation is the first thing the fear towards the different sexual orientation is based on. This is the fear towards what is against the laws of nature. According to Sarjveladze the fear is related to losing historical equability as well. The third explanation is that none of the groups is peaceful, each of them has its negative charge.

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