Georgia Prez Says No to Anti-LGBT Referendum

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has rejected an anti-LGBTQ organization’s proposal to hold a referendum on defining a marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Georgia Today writes, “Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili shot down a move to hold a national referendum that would constitutionally define marriage as a union of a man and woman.

At a press conference held on Tuesday, Margvelashvili said Georgia’s Civil Code already specifies marriage as “a voluntary union of a man and woman.”

Margvelashvili added that the country’s existing legislation bans any move to change the constitution through a referendum.

“If there is a desire to adopt a constitutional amendment over this issue…then a relevant bill would need to be debated by the parliament,” Margvelashvili said.

The move to hold a referendum was first brought up by an activist group led by Alexander Bregadze, Soso Manjavidze and Zviad Tomaradze, who gathered 200,000 votes and asked the Central Election Commission (CEC) to register their request for a referendum.

The CEC approved the bid for a referendum on August 3 and sent it to Margvelashvili for his approval. Margvelashvili quashed the drive for a referendum after he refused to meet Bregadze, Manjavidze and Tomaradze after they refused to discuss the question the group wanted to have put forward to voters.

“They (pro-referendum activists) chose the language of confrontation and blackmail and refused consultations, which clearly reveals that this group has narrow political objectives,” Dolidze said before the President’s press conference.

Bregadze criticized Margvelashvili for rejecting the bid, saying the President’s decision was influenced “by lobbyists out to protect homosexuals’ rights.”

The ruling Georgian Dream coalition first brought up the issue of legally defining marriage along strictly heterosexual lines, but a draft resolution on amending the constitution was not put to a vote in May during its first reading due to a lack of quorum in the parliament.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on August 4 that he supported a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman.