Anti-Gender Rhetoric and Disinformation Campaign Related to Gender Issues in Georgia

The Democracy Research Institute studied 210 cases of anti-gender/anti-feminist content spread via social networks and online media between April and August 2023.

Observation shows that along with far-right groups becoming active, their attempts to manipulate public opinion with gender and LGBTQ+ identity issues are increasing. Homophobic and transphobic rhetoric is clearly noticeable in public discussions, which has even become an important (geo)political challenge for the country. Disinformation media campaigns, focusing on sensitive issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation, contribute to the polarization of society and create obstacles to the country's western integration.

Far-right groups try to mobilize supporters around issues such as identity, sexual and reproductive education, religious sentiments, and the institution of the family.

The anti-gender rhetoric of far-right groups, which is significantly based on homophobic sentiments, was even given a kind of legitimacy by the policy pursued by Georgian Dream. The observation made it clear that the authorities and far-right forces have one and the same homophobic messages and a policy based on mutual understanding and mutual loyalty. It is significant that far-right groups, in full unison with Georgian Dream, are engaged in the political instrumentalization of homophobia, which is combined with anti-Western and false national-religious sentiments.

As a result of monitoring social networks and online media, we identified three main directions of homophobic rhetoric in the anti-gender discourse of the far-right groups and their leaders:

  • Homophobic rhetoric regarding Tbilisi Pride Week - homophobic narratives of the far-right groups intensified ahead of May 17, and the aggression reached its climax on July 8, with the disruption of the festival announced by Tbilisi Pride.
  • The homophobic rhetoric of the Prime Minister of Georgia at the Conservative Political ActionConference (CPAC) - Irakli Gharibashvili’s speech delivered at the Conference on May 4, 2023, which was saturated with homophobic messages, became an active theme in the far-right discourse. The openly pro-Russian far-right groups evaluated the Prime Minister's speech positively.
  • Discrediting campaign against civil activist Lazare Grigoriadis - during the reporting period, far-right Kremlin groups, along with anonymous governmental reports, tried in full unison to discredit activist Lazare Grigoriadis, who was arrested for assaulting a police officer and destroying other people's property during demonstrations against the draft law "On transparency of Foreign Influence", and his supporters. The campaign had strongly sexist and homophobic content.
Anti-Gender Rhetoric and Disinformation Campaign Related to Gender Issues in Georgia