Report Offers a Rare Peek inside Georgia’s Lesbian Scene
“So, this is a family situation,” the police officers commented, mockingly, after realizing that the fight they had come to break up was between a female couple. “So, which one of you is a guy and which one is a girl?” they asked, according to a report on Georgian lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.
The report, prepared by the Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG), describes the lives of LBT women as mostly closeted, lived in the shadow of the social mainstream, and surrounded by discrimination and various phobias.
The problems start inside families, which, in Georgia, often means an extended network of relatives actively monitoring younger members’ personal lives. One young lesbian respondent told WISG that, after finding out about her sexual orientation, her family placed her under tight control.
“I don’t have a job and I cannot live on my own,” she said. “The only way out that I see is to get married… I want to marry some gay man, so he can do his thing and I will do mine.”
Opinion polls have shown that 90 percent of Georgians persistently disapprove of homosexuality. But while issues related to gay men do make it into public discourse occasionally (though the national media mostly explore the topics for their scandal value), fear of ostracism, ridicule and/or violence means the LBT community maintains a much lower profile.
Except at private gatherings or a few hipster cafés in Tbilisi, the community is all but invisible. A video of a lesbian pair participating in a kissing contest in a Tbilisi nightclub caused a minor public furor last year.
Hence, it is the more vulnerable group, argues the WISG report.* LBT women often avoid contacting police when they are in trouble for they may face inaction and taunting, and, in the worst cases, even violence by police, the WISG claims.
In response, the group has proposed a series of reforms, ranging from protection against job discrimination to guarantees for the constitutional rights of Georgians who have undergone sex changes.
*"The Sitaution of LBT Women in Georgia" report was financed in part by the Open Society-Georgia Foundation, part of the Open Society Foundations network. EurasiaNet.org operates under the auspices of the Central Eurasia Project , a separate part of that network.