Religious Minorities in Georgia apply to the Constitutional Court
5 religious organizations have applied to the Constitutional Court of Georgia with a claim requesting to find those norms of the Law of Georgia on State Property unconstitutional, that create discriminatory environment for religious minority organizations and establish unequal treatment towards them compared to the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia.
The plaintiffs are represented at the court by Tbilisi Free University Law Clinic and Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI).
Religious organizations, excluding Georgian Orthodox Church, encounter a series of obstacles while trying to obtain the state property (e.g. exchange, privatization of agricultural land plots and receiving state property free of charge), which contradicts the constitutional principle of equality before the law (Article 14) and property ownership and inheritance rights (Article 21).
Constitutional lawsuit disputes the norms in the Law of Georgia on State Property, according to which, the state property can be purchased only by religious organizations registered as legal entities under private law (excluding the occasion of privatization of the State owned agricultural land plots), also in the case of a direct sale by a decision of the Government of Georgia, exclusively by the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia.
Pursuant to provisions appealed by the claim, religious organizations registered as legal entities under the public law, cannot purchase agricultural land plots through privatization, religious minority organizations are restricted to receive the property in return for the transfer of the equivalent property into state ownership and to get the State property free of charge by the decision of the government.
As a result of the mentioned regulations, religious minority organizations registered as legal entities under the public law, have not been able to register their property into ownership that had been transferred to them with the right of usage.
Finding the mentioned norms unconstitutional, will not abolish the rights already granted to the Georgian Orthodox Church by the law, but will give other religious organizations the possibility to equally exercise the constitutional rights without a discriminatory treatment.
The following religious organizations applied to the Constitutional Court of Georgia:
- Highest Administration of all Muslims in Georgia
- Evangelical-Baptist Church of Georgia
- Pentecostal Church of Georgia
- Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Georgia
- The Redeemed Christian Church of God in Georgia
The law suit is prepared in the framework of the memorandum signed by Tbilisi Free University Law Clinic and TDI.
TDI provides legal aid in the frame of the project Combatting Religious, Ethnic and Racial Discrimination in Georgia in the framework of East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) project Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).