Court rules privileges for Georgian Orthodox Church unconstitutional

Source: OC Media

July 4, 2018

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi. Photo: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi. Photo:

Priv­i­leg­ing the Georgian Orthodox Church over other religious groups in tax and state property leg­is­la­tion has been ruled dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al by Georgia’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court. On Tuesday, the court issued rulings on two cases, both filed by religious minority groups against unequal treatment by the state.

Eight religious groups asked the court to review reg­u­la­tions in the tax code that exempted the Georgian Orthodox Church from paying VAT when building, ren­o­vat­ing, and painting churches. They argued the policy was dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, as they applied to no other religious groups in Georgia, which they said con­tra­dict­ed their con­sti­tu­tion­al right to equality.

The Georgian Par­lia­ment — the defendant in the case — argued that even though all religious groups are equal, special priv­i­leges for the Georgian Orthodox Church are legit­imised by the need to protect the country’s cultural heritage and by Article 9 of the Georgian Con­sti­tu­tion, which declares the Georgian Orthodox Church to have a ‘special role’ in the country.

The court ruled that the unequal treatment of religious groups was dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and had not been suf­fi­cient­ly justified by the government’s stated goals. They said to resolve the issue, the tax benefits should either be abolished entirely or be provided equally to all religious groups.

...Read the rest at OC Media.


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