Tbilisi court bans blasphemous condom packaging, fines company

Tbilisi, May 7, 2018

Photo: www.ancient-origins.net Photo: www.ancient-origins.net
    

A Tbilisi City Court has fined Georgian condom company AIISA for “offend[ing] national morality and dignity” with its various packaging designs featuring images such as St. Tamar, members of the royal family, statesmen, politicians, and also Tbilisi’s “Mother of Georgia” statue, a beloved national symbol. They also blasphemously and mockingly make mention of Orthodox feast days.

The case had been brought to court by Tbilisi City Hall, claiming that the company’s packaging is “non-ethical, an insult to public morality and to the beliefs of a certain group, as well as national dignity,” reports jam-news.net.

In late March, a group of politicians from the Sakartvelos Party and faithful Georgian Orthodox Christians had addressed Georgian authorities, calling for a ban on AIISA condoms featuring blasphemous packaging. The author of the statement to the authorities underlined that the products were fueling civil discord and strife and provoking tension and unrest in the country.

Protests also took place under the slogan “Georgians will not forgive anyone for insulting Queen Tamar.”

Judge Lasha Tavartkiladze shared the faithful’s concern and fined AIISA 500 GEL (about $200) specifically for using the image of the beloved St. Tamar. The court also ordered the company to recall condoms with four particular images before May 14 and to discontinue such packaging in the future.

According to Georgia Today, the four banned images are:

  1. St. Queen Tamar, a Medieval ruler of Georgia who has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church,
  2. A left palm in the shape of a priestly blessing with a condom on two fingers,
  3. A photo of a panda with text referencing sinful acts and the great feast of Theophany,
  4. Packaging that refers to the 12th Century Battle of Didgori between St. King David the Builder and Seljuk Turk forces, which in Georgia is regarded as a historic turning point and respected both by the state and the Church.

The Georgian Orthodox Church also came to the defense of its saints and feast with a statement in March, accusing the company of “insulting the feelings of believers and manifesting blasphemy,” and “immoral behavior.”

However, company owner Anania Gachechiladze does not seem to have understood the point, proudly declaring that there will be no need to recall the condoms by May 14: “They will be sold out in 5 minutes. I am going to increase the price of these designs to 10 lari ($4) as exclusive ones, and I will tell everybody to grab them while they’re still there.”

Gachechiladze also believes the court verdict contradicts freedom of expression and endangers the democratic state and society, and has vowed to appeal the decision, up to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI), believes the judgment is not in line with the Georgian Constitution.

“We believe that the court’s judgment contradicts the constitution of Georgia, the Convention for the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of Georgia and the case-law of the European Court. Therefore, we believe the court’s judgment limiting freedom of speech on account of protecting religious freedoms and national dignity is a dangerous precedent of censorship,” the NGO stated.

AIISA condoms also depict various famous people, including Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Stalin, Sts. Adam and Eve and many quotes from Georgia’s famous poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, written in the time of St. Tamar.

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5/7/2018

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