On March 10, 2017, the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, in cooperation with project partners, the Women's Initiatives Supporting Group and the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center held a CSO Forum with the participation of a number of civil society organisations and media representatives, where the project partners presented a long-term advocacy strategy document to combat homo/bi/transphobia in Georgia. The Forum was conducted within the framework of the EU-funded action, Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia.
The evidence-based document was recently finalised following a lengthy and comprehensive multistakeholder process, which commenced last year and was hindered by an increasing difficulty to attract key state actors to engage in the development of the document due to the political environment in the country. Many key actors did participate and lend their support, including the representatives of non-parliamentary parties, the Human Rights Secretariat, the Public Defender's office, the media, diplomatic missions, international and local non-governmental organisations, as well as the Assistant to the Prime Minister on Human Rights and Gender Equality Issues, who, over the course of three Stakeholder Group Meetings, offered their comprehensive feedback on the format and content of the document in order to ensure that the final version was inclusive of all key areas of focus in terms of recommendations to eradicate discrimination and prejudice against LGBTI persons in Georgia via a complex approach aimed at ensuring an enabling and secure environment and equal opportunities.
The strategy document, which was based on the findings and recommendations of two major studies carried out within the framework of the EU-funded action, an unprecedented study on homo/bi/transphobic societal attitudes and an assessment of the legal situation of LGBTI persons in Georgia, constitutes a Declaration, the first part of which channels the preamble of the Yogyakarta Principles, recalling the principle of universality of human rights, and the second section of which then goes on to provide evidence-based recommendations to specific agencies and institutions, ranging from the Parliament of Georgia, to the government, to all ministries, to the media, to the Public Defender, to non-governmental organisations.
During the CSO Forum, which was attended by representatives of 16 organisations, media and political entities, after the EU Project Coordinator's brief introduction of the essence of the action, the project partners proceeded to expound in detail about the strategy document, the specific recommendations, and their purpose. Following the presentations and relevant questions from the participants of the Forum, the present CSOs were invited to offer their signatures to the document, confirming their endorsement.
The finalised and endorsed document will then be used as a basis to advocate the recommendations in meetings with select key agencies and lobbying efforts will also be directed at supporting their reflection in the Human Rights Action Plan of Georgia.
A similar strategy document, although with a different structure tailored to the local context was presented in Armenia in early December 2016. Analogous presentations of the long-term advocacy strategy document and collection of signatures will be conducted in the Georgian regions in the upcoming several weeks.
An electronic version of the Declaration has also been developed and CSOs are encouraged to express their support digitally, by indicating the name of their organisation while doing so. Please, visit the following link to view the Declaration.