Georgia's Forbidden Kisses
The generally puritan Caucasus saw an unlikely protest rally in Tbilisi the other day. This time it was not another political pow-wow to call for ousting the government; rather, it was about the right to kiss.
Several young couples gathered in a downtown Tbilisi park on June 24 and shared kisses to protest what they claim is a government attempt to regulate kissing in public.
Responding to an alleged PDA crackdown by Tbilisi park security guards, Georgian blogger and civil rights activist Giorgi Kikonishvili had called on sympathizers to take action through a Facebook-promoted event called “We Love and We Make Out.”
“If kissing is a crime, then let’s commit that crime,” Kikonishvili wrote.
In case you're wondering, Georgians are not a particularly kiss-averse crowd. A peck on the cheek is a standard form of greeting or farewell between male and female friends alike, but cranking those kisses up a notch, and on the street, is another matter.
Kikonishvili and other supporters believe that Tbilisi's park administrations arbitrarily interpret a law that ambiguously limits displays of affection in public. “The government should be very careful when it interferes with the matters of decency and morality because decency and morality are highly subjective concepts,” Kikonishvili told the pro-opposition Maestro television channel.
Before the protest began, the event's Facebook page was already awash with comments by pro and anti-public-kissing factions.The campaign quickly crossed over into mainstream media.
Opponents said they would not want their children to witness excessive expressions of affection in public places. Some said it depends on the type of kiss. Others (mostly men) even half-jokingly placed personals-style requests on Facebook for female kissing partners; they pointed out that it was all for a noble cause.
In the end, some 600 people hit the event's Facebook “Attend” button, but the turnout was disappointing. Truth be told, the onlookers vastly outnumbered the kissers, but looks like they did kiss the perceived ban good-bye. Police said that young people can kiss away and the government has no plans to stand between them, Maestro reported.