IN RESPONSE TO LGBT DAY THE CHURCH OF GEORGIA ORGANIZES 400 WEDDINGS AND A PROCESSION IN TBILISI by Yannick Provost

The following report is remarkable for the Georgian Patriarchate’s protection of a gay activist despite its rather stunning politicization of mass marriages to coincide with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This article also attests to the pressing need, not only in the West but also in historically Orthodox societies, to come to terms theologically with the fact of sexual and gender diversity in human nature and the possibilities for its sanctification in the life of the Church. 

Mariage-géorgie-2On Thursday, May 17, while numerous organizations around the world celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), launched in 2005, the Orthodox Church of Georgia is going to sanctify the day with a procession in the streets of Tbilisi in order to defend the sanctity of the family, and will celebrate a great number of weddings throughout the city.

This is also the Thursday when the Orthodox Church celebrates the great feast of the Ascension of the Lord. After the Divine Liturgy in the morning, members of the clergy of numerous parishes in Tbilisi gathered with their faithful at noon in Rose Revolution Square, from which the religious procession will depart.

The Orthodox Church forcefully affirms that marriage is the sacramental union of one man and one woman, that every other type of “marriage” is a sin, and that all sexual relations outside of the sacramental bonds of marriage are wrong.

(The Orthodox Church of Moldova recently asked the government to forbid an LGBT march in the capital, Chișinău.)

The procession will end at Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the marriage service for several Orthodox couples will be celebrated. The news agency Sputnik-Georgia states that around 400 couples will marry today in different churches in Tbilisi.

This is the second year that such a celebration of a large number of marriages will take place. The event is organized by the Chokhonetsev Society of Georgia, founded by the Patriarchate of Georgia for the purpose of strengthening the traditional character of the family. In 2014 Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II declared May 17 the “Day of the Sanctity of the Family and the Dignity of Parents” after members of the Georgian LGBT community had set out to celebrate IDAHOTB publicly. There were regrettable clashes between demonstrators belonging to these minorities and Orthodox clergy and laity in 2012 and 2013, even though security was reinforced last year and the demonstration took place without violence.

To show that the Church’s position is not one of “homophobia,” but of faithfulness to God’s laws, in February 2016 the Patriarchate of Georgia asked the Minister of the Interior to guarantee the safety of Giorgi Tatishvili, a representative of the LGBT community who campaigns for their rights and who had proposed a bill before the Constitutional Court to obtain the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Patriarchate stated:

As we know, the majority of our population (independently of nationality and religion) is against this law. For this reason, there is a danger that those of certain leanings might use this situation as a means of provocation and that the life of Giorgi Tatishvili could be in danger.

This article appeared originally on May 17, 2018 on the Orthodoxie website. Translated by Giacomo Sanfilippo. Any errors in translation are his alone.
Correction: This article appeared originally in English on Orthodox Christianity, was translated into French by Father Provost and back into English by us. Our apologies for the misunderstanding. 

Father Yannick Provost is a priest of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate headquartered in Paris.

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