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Defining marriage

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, August 5
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili commented on the recent stir about the definition of marriage in the Constitution of Georgia.

Kvirikashvili says it should be defined that marriage is the unity of a man and a woman.

“The amendments to the Constitution over the marriage definition will take place by all means,” stated Kvirikashvili.

According to Article 36 of the Georgian constitution, “Marriage shall be based upon the equality of rights and free will of spouses.” The ruling party, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG), was the first to initiate the changes were made to this article. They demand the substitution of the word “spouses” with “man and woman” in order to ban same-sex marriages.

In late May, GDDG wanted to put the draft of the constitutional amendment to vote in Parliament, but the issue failed due to the lack of quorum.

After this an initiative group of three men-Sandro Bregadze, Soso Manjavidze and Zviad Tomaradze gathered 200,000 signatures and asked the Central Election Commission of Georgia (CEC) to register their request about holding a referendum over the issue.

On August 3, CEC approved a referendum bid of the initiative group and sent it with the report to the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who has to make a decision during 30 days. If President approves the bid, he has to send the decree to the Prime Minister for countersignature.

However, Sandro Bregadze, who is the former Deputy Minister of Diaspora, said the President was asked to turn down the referendum bid.

According to him, organizations protecting homosexuals’ rights and some diplomatic agencies pressured the president into not holding the referendum.

“They call on the President not to allow the Georgian people to express their opinion concerning the issue. This information is true, we received it from an official source,” Bregadze said.

The initiative group members have also mentioned the fact of U.S. Ambassador Ian Kelly’s opinion about the issue.

The proposed question for a possible referendum is: “Do you agree that civil marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of starting a family?”

The majority says the marriage issue in the Constitution is not clear enough and it needs to be defined.

The Republican Party believes that additional definition of the issue is not necessary as Georgia’s civil code already specifies that marriage is a “voluntary union of man and woman”.

Tamar Kordzaia, a member of the Republicans, hopes the President will be guided by European values and he will reject the referendum bid.