Amendment Limits Freedom of Expression
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The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has introduced a proposed amendment to Article 1691 of the Georgian Administrative Code that, among its proposed changes, contains a clause that seeks to ban expression offensive to feelings of believers. The consequences, if a transgressor is found guilty, is a fine between 300 - 500 laris for first-time offenders and 1,000 - 1,500 laris and/or 15 days in prison for repeat offenders within one year of their last offense.
In JumpStart Georgia's opinion, this law is in direct conflict with Article 19 (freedom of speech) of Georgia's Constitution. In addition, giving special legal preference/protection to organizations of religious faith, in a country with a plurality of beliefs and lifestyles, is nothing but divisive. Finally, the vaguery of the language, including text such as 'offending the feelings of the faithful', will lead to the law’s misuse and persecution of individuals and/or organizations that espouse ideas or beliefs contrary to religious doctrines.
JumpStart Georgia instead suggests to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and to Parliament in general to strengthen laws related to libel and slander as well as their implementation; laws that should protect all people and organizations equally from misrepresentation based on facts and not sentiment.
JumpStart Georgia has redacted several of its infographics below, incorporating the self-censorship it thinks it would have to impose so as not to offend the feelings of believers.