Georgian Orthodox Church threatens protests against anti-discrimination law

May 7 (The Conway Bulletin) – Georgia’s parliament passed an anti-discrimination bill it needed to implement for further integration into the EU but the conservative Orthodox Church has said it will protest against it (May 2).

Media reported that Georgia’s parliament passed the law unanimously.

The bill, its supporters and its detractors, give a good insight into the division coursing through Georgian society between modernisers and traditionalists.

The EU, which Georgia is desperate to join, has called on legislation that protects the rights of minorities. This has been generally accepted by Georgians, although the conservative Orthodox Church continues to rile against it.

And the Orthodox Church in Georgia is powerful. Patriarch Ilia II is considered a genuine power-broker, politicians cosy up to religious leaders and priests lead demonstrations. Last year, priests led a march against a gay rights parade that triggered violence. Tolerance in modern day Georgia only goes so far.

For the Church, the new laws are virtually heresy and it has promised to protest against it. Their main difficulty with the law is its protection of homosexuality.

Patriarch Ilia II was succinct. “Not a single believer will accept such law,” he said.

For NGOs pushing for the new legislation it has also been a slight disappointment. They were disappointed that the law finally adopted had been watered down from its original state.

Expect more tension between modernisers and traditionalists.

>>>>This story was first published in issue 183 of The Conway Bulletin on May 7 2014. To subscribe click here. For a free trial, click here.

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