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The News in Brief

Tuesday, June 14
Group Pushes for Referendum to ‘Define Marriage’

The Central Election Commission (CEC) gave the go-ahead on Sunday to the launch of procedures, which if completed, will lead to the holding of a referendum on defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman – something that is already specified in the Georgian legislation.

The CEC’s decision means that an initiative group behind the referendum proposal now has 3 months to collect at least 200,000 signatures of citizens required for the referendum to be called.

The CEC will then need the approval of President Giorgi Margvelashvili to decide within a month whether to hold the referendum; if he decides to do so, his decree on holding the referendum will then require approval from the Prime Minister.

Among the members of the initiative group behind the referendum proposal is Sandro Bregadze, who was Deputy State Minister for Diaspora Issues before resigning in February, 2016; the rights groups had been calling for his dismissal while he was holding the post because of his homophobic remarks. Bregadze is now with a new political party, which is being set up by MP Tamaz Mechiauri, who is also no stranger to making homophobic slurs and who has quit the ruling GDDG party in late May after voicing anti-Western sentiments and criticizing the government’s declared policy of NATO integration.

Bregadze told journalists on June 12 that the initiative group wants the referendum to be held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections on October 8.

The proposed question for a possible referendum – “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?” – does not specify how the issue can be further “defined”, as Georgia’s civil code in fact already specifies that marriage is a “voluntary union of a man and a woman”, effectively banning same-sex marriage.

Initially, the same initiative group was proposing different wording of the question; it was proposing asking voters if they wanted marriage to be defined as union of a man and a woman in the Constitution.

The proposal, however, was turned down by the Central Election Commission in May 2016, as the Georgian legislation bans holding of a referendum on an issue that would obligate Parliament to change the Constitution.

On May 27, Parliament discussed with its first reading a draft of constitutional amendment, proposed by the ruling GDDG party, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

But because of the lack of the required quorum, it remains unclear when, or if ,the bill will be put on vote. Any constitutional amendment requires the support of at least 113 MPs and a vote cannot be held unless this number of minimum required lawmakers is present in the chamber. Lawmakers from the UNM, the largest opposition group in the legislative body, are currently boycotting parliamentary sittings due to the Kortskheli violent incident.

During the discussion of the constitutional bill on May 27, lawmakers from the GDDG ruling party did not rule out initiating a referendum on the issue if the Parliament fails to adopt the proposed constitutional amendment.

President Margvelashvili said in May that the constitutional bill to define marriage as union of a man and a woman “is not an issue” at all in Georgia and an attempt “to stir a storm in a teacup”; he also said that the proposal was floated for the purpose of diverting public attention from real problems in the country.

Cliff partially collapses at Tskneti road

A cliff at the Tbilisi-Tskhneti road has partially collapsed due to heavy rains that had fallen in previous days. The corresponding department of Tbilisi City Hall has provided security on the road. As reported emergency crews and patrol police officers are mobilized at the scene. Nobody has been injured as a result of the incident.

Traffic has temporarily been restricted on the road.

Central Election Commission updates voters’ register

The Central Election Commission has updated the list of voters. As InterpressNews was informed by the Central Election Commission, each citizen is able to check his/her data on a special website -

On 7 June 3 634 polling stations were created in 73 majoritarian districts; their numbers and boundaries were defined.

The public version of voter lists is available for registered parties, election blocs and electoral observers. As for voters, they can see and change information only about themselves and their family members. In case of inaccuracies, interested persons must apply the appropriate election commission no later than 22 September.

In accordance with the electoral law, on July 15 the Central Election Commission will update the list of voters once again.