In the heart of Tbilisi, not far from luxury hotels and high-end shops, lie dingy, Soviet-era catacombs that serve as everything from a public urinal and dumpster to the capital’s alleged epicenter of sex tourism.
Ensconced in this multi-level, concrete arcade are largely Middle Eastern-run nightclubs that feature images of scantily clad women portrayed alongside Iranian, Turkish and Emirati flags. This seedbed of vice recently was thrust into the public spotlight due to reports that the nightclubs had supposedly imposed a de facto ban on Georgian men.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili vowed to crack down on the clubs’ alleged foreign-men-only admissions policy. “We are facing a discriminatory practice there, for, as far as I know, local men are not allowed in these establishments. Unfortunately, they only let the [local] ladies in,” Kvirikashvili said during a cabinet meeting in January.
He called on the Interior Ministry and his human rights aide to look into the matter, and make sure the nation’s anti-discrimination laws are enforced. “We need neither the tourists nor the income that spurn our laws,” he said.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.