I'm studying at a Georgian university and I'm queer. If I state my name and age in public, I face consequences. Violence. Homosexuality has been legal in Georgia since 2000. Theoretically. But in practice, the government does not do much to protect minorities. Homophobic violence is everywhere in public space. Politicians, priests, religious leaders: they propagate that we are evil. That's not true. We don't harm anyone. They make life difficult for us. That's why I'm afraid that I will be recognized. That everyone knows my name. That I will be de-registered or that people who want to harm me will find me. I am a student in Georgia.
Actually, our life is not very different from the life of Western European students. We have the same bachelor and master system as in Europe. Similar subjects. That's it too. Student life at Georgian universities is not easy. Education is underfunded. Doctoral students, for example, only receive 25 lari per hour. That's about 6 euros. The funding is only symbolic. But there are far bigger problems than income in Georgia: Queer people are invisible. Like me. Homosexuality has been legal in Georgia for more than 20 years. But in practice, the government does not do much to protect minorities.
Society in Georgia is very homophobic and you can see that in everyday life. We are being rushed against in private and public circles. Our families are the best example: If you come out, you can very quickly face violence and neglect. We are seen as a shame. Often parents throw their queer children out at home. What will become of you? You become homeless. And work? Very difficult for openly homosexual people. If your employer finds out that you are queer, you will be fired. The influence of the Orthodox Church and conservative forces in Georgian society is too great. Also in the universities. Because they are embedded in Georgian society. The students. The organizations. The administration. Most of the time, she doesn't allow queer organizations.Also in my university of mine. Although my studies are actually pretty liberal.
We are invisible
At my university there is no open hostility on the part of the administration. I did not receive any attacks from the students either. Neither physically nor verbally. Still, I have to say that there are no structures for queer people in Georgia. That makes us invisible. And a lack of visibility in society contributes to discrimination against people. I want our needs to be taken seriously. It's very difficult to organize in this kind of society that is so homophobic and doesn't accept people who are openly queer. We are moving as a society to be more progressive, more liberal, but that ends with homosexuality. There is a lack of acceptance of other life plans. Both society and universities simply don't want to know anything about us.
But there is still hope. Movements like Pride in Georgia are often victims of anti-queer violence, but I believe that the young generation of Georgians who take to the streets with us is getting louder and louder. It mobilizes, shows solidarity and continues to penetrate politics. I hope this will have an impact on society as a whole. I wish that.
I would also like our society to be cured of this disease.
The disease of homophobia.
We are part of this society.
The queer community in Georgia should be accepted and integrated.
Everyone in this community should feel supported.
Have a place in this country.
And don't put up with anyone.
We want to live in peace in Georgia.
And be visible.
I want to be open.
Artur Weigandt (26) is
Artur Weigandt (26) is
currently completing an apprenticeship at the German School of Journalism in Munich.
But also spent a long time as a child and student in Kazakhstan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
For the “Uni live” series, he writes minutes about the everyday life of students in Eastern Europe at irregular intervals.Keywords: