The Prime Minister of Georgia recently introduced an amendment calling for same-sex marriage to be banned in the country’s constitution.

Irakli Garibashvili in late March introduced the amendment which would specifically define marriage as between one man and one woman.

It was introduced apparently to avoid “misinterpretation” of an anti-discrimination bill which was also introduced at the same time. The latter seeks to fill in legal gaps in anti-discrimination laws to include LGBT people.

Six EU Member states currently have constitutional same-sex marriage bans, including most recently Croatia, which in December 2013 passed its ban.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also ban same-sex marriage.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “These are deeply unwelcome developments. Since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2000, Georgia showed a commitment to protecting LGBTI people from discrimination by changing its labour code as well as introducing legislation protecting LGBT people from hate crime.

“Georgia should celebrate diversity and not return to a repressive and negative past. Now is the time for leadership on the issue of human rights of LGBTI people. The rights to equal protection of the law, and the right to live without fear.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the European Parliament delegation to the Southern Caucasus, added: “It is a disgrace that Prime Minister Garibashvili introduced this amendment at the same time that a bill closing the legal gap in the protection of LGBTI people was introduced. The amendment serves no purpose but to institutionalise discrimination against LGBTI people.”

“As equality is the defining element of a civilised and inclusive society, I call on the Georgian Parliament to vote against this homophobic amendment and continue on the road to equality.”