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Georgia PM Wants Marriage Between Man, Woman Enshrined In Constitution

At least 17 people were injured after gay rights campaigners were attacked by antigay activists in Tbilisi in May 2013.

TBILISI -- Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili says his ruling coalition will draft a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Kvirikashvili and the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition appear eager to quash a civil rights lawyer's effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the socially conservative, mostly Orthodox Christian country in the South Caucasus.

Georgian officials frequently cast their country, which is seeking closer integration with NATO and the EU, as a beacon of European values in the former Soviet Union, and Kvirikashvili said on March 7 that GD is committed to wiping out all forms of discrimination.

But he said that "such an important value" as marriage as a union between a man and a woman needed to be enshrined in the constitution.

Article 36 of the Georgian Constitution reads: "Marriage shall be based upon equality of rights and free will of spouses."

GD's proposal is expected to offer replacing "spouses" with "a man and a woman."

Georgian civil rights lawyer Giorgi Tatishvili petitioned the Constitutional Court earlier this year to legalize same-sex marriage. Shortly afterward, GD made an initial announcement about plans to amend the constitution.

Gay rights groups in Tbilisi then condemned the coalition's plans to enshrine marriage as a union between a man and a woman, urging the authorities not to play "political games" with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

Several gay rights groups also issued a statement saying that even if gay marriage were expressly legalized, most gays in Georgia would be unable to officially register their unions due to what they called "the violent environment in Georgian society.”

On May 17, 2013, at least 17 people were injured in violence that broke out in Tbilisi before the start of a rally to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

In 2014, the premiere of a Georgian comedy that supports gay-rights was canceled in Georgia after a radical Christian group, the Union of Orthodox Parents, protested in front of the parliament building and demanded that the film be banned.

The influential head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, has publicly criticized what he calls "gay propaganda" and called on Georgians "to respect the nation's traditional values."