Georgia proposes “blasphemy bill” to outlaw religious insults
Georgia -one of the world’s most religious and sensitive relating to this issue nations – is planning a “blasphemy bill” that will make religious irreverence punishable by law.
This situation arouses concerns about freedom of expression and critics say the bill – that is currently headed for the parliamentary floor – could be used against any organizations not following the official church line.
A 100 lari fine ($120) for “insults to religious feelings” could be imposed and a religious symbol could cost up to 1,000 lari. With the average monthly salary no more than about 818 laris, the amounts are not insignificant.
According to the Georgian ombudsman’s office, “the current wording proposes the ‘insult of religious feelings’ as the sole criterion for limiting freedom of expression”, which “subjects one individual to another’s will and places the believers in a privileged position”. And the imbalance works in favor of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The draft is likely to be passed, particularly in a parliamentary election year, although the bill has caused divisions both within and outside the ruling coalition.
For instance, as said by Tamar Kordzaia, MP from the moderate Republican Party, “a perceived insult to religious feelings should be disputed by an individual. The state can never know if some particular action is offensive to a particular individual.”
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