In the two-plus decades since the Soviet collapse, the Georgian Orthodox Church has emerged as one of the South Caucasus country’s most respected and influential institutions. But some observers and theologians now worry that ultra-conservative clerics within the Church are gaining too much power.
Georgia may be touted as the most pro-Western country in the South Caucasus, but the recent backlash against LGBT activists in Tbilisi underscores how wide the cultural divide is when it comes to defining democratic values.
In the aftermath of the May 17 mob rampage against gay-rights activists in Tbilisi, public discussion in Tbilisi is focusing on church-state issues, especially the question of whether the Georgian Orthodox Church operates beyond the reach of civil law.
A raging mob in Tbilisi chased away a downtown rally designed to commemorate the May 17 International Day against Homophobia. “Kill them! Tear them to pieces!” yelled the agitated crowd as police struggled to evacuate a handful of gay-rights supporters from the Georgian capital's central Freedom Square.
In Turkey, when parents discover that their child is gay, violence and even murder can result. But one Istanbul-based organization is fighting to reverse that trend by appealing to the parents themselves.
Issues of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) rights have been much in the news in the former Soviet Union over the past year. In Russia and Ukraine, proposed legislation criminalizing "homosexual propaganda," or just about any discussion of homosexuality in front of minors, threatens to roll back the boundaries of tolerance for the LGBT community.