European Court sides with maker of blasphemous condom packaging in Georgia

Strasbourg, France, July 23, 2021

St. Tamar is among those whose image was blasphemously used on condom packaging. Photo: St. Tamar is among those whose image was blasphemously used on condom packaging. Photo:     

Georgian courts were wrong to fine a condom company for its blasphemous use of religious and historical figure and events on its packaging, according to the European Court of Human Rights.

In May 2018, A Tbilisi City Court fined the company AIISA for “offend[ing] national morality and dignity” with its packaging designs featuring images such as the beloved 12th-13th century ruler of Georgia St. Tamar, and blasphemous references to Orthodox feast days.

The fine of about $200 (500 GEL) was imposed specifically for the misuse of the image of St. Tamar, but the court also ordered the company to recall and discontinue three other designs as well:

  1. A left hand in the shape of a priestly blessing with a condom on two fingers

  2. A photo of a panda with text referencing sinful acts and the great feast of Theophany

  3. Packaging referring 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 George also came to the defense of its saints, accusing the company of “insulting the feelings of believers and manifesting blasphemy,” and “immoral behavior.” However, company owner Anania Gachechiladze continued to boldly mock the Church and its saints.

She then appealed the verdict, but her conviction was upheld by a Georgian appeals court. It was then that she decided to turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

In its ruling, published yesterday, the court mostly sided with Gachechiladze, declaring that Georgian authorities had violated her right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfillment,” the ruling states.

The judges did, however, agree that the use of the image of St. Tamar “could be seen as a gratuitous insult to the object of veneration for Georgians following the Orthodox Christian faith.”

The Georgian courts’ arguments regarding the other three designs were not strong enough, however, to justify demanding their discontinuation, the European Court ruled.

Gachechiladze did not seek any damages, so none were awarded.

In December 2016, Orthodox faithful in Russia successfully protested plans to build a condom factory near the Bogolyubsky Monastery in the village of Bogolyubovo.

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John Macenka7/24/2021 4:40 pm
As an Orthodox Christian I find this terrible and the work of Satan just like Alexei said in his remarks. All other religions get a big pass but for us Orthodox we seem to always get bashed and no one does anything to stop the bashing. But OUR LORD is always in control and IN HIS TIME will take care of all the things going on in the world today. Perhaps it is indeed good to suffer for OUR LORD. Through suffering we get to know the right way. When our lives become to comfortable we tend to forgot our prayers and what the church is truly about. We can pray for people who do terrible things and hope they through the Lord will see the error of their ways and repent. Perhaps one day they will confess and receive the gifts of Jesus Christ. John Macenka
Alexander Leitner7/24/2021 12:18 pm
Dr. David Wood's Videos on Youtube against errors of Islam and islamization of the West. He made an Origami pig of quran pages and tried to sell it on ebay but it was immediatly removed by eBay. Reason was "hurting religious feelings!" Than many complained that there are many items sold on ebay with the most blasphemous content. (T-Shirts with curses against Christ, Hard Rock Music with horrible blasphemies, with images of Christ...) but reaction was zero.

The same is with Youtube, Facebook....The West is anti-Christian and satanic
sherlock_holmes7/23/2021 7:45 pm
The fork of hypocrisy: If Ivan says something and John doesn't like it, this is hate speech. If John says something and Ivan doesn't like it, this is freedom of expression.
Alexei7/23/2021 7:44 pm
Dear Alexander, It is not Western hypocrisy. I look at this and smile. For it is a time where we can rejoice in the Lord and our Orthodox Church for we can see that it is not hypocrisy that we are fighting, but Satan and his demons. This is one of those cases where the evil one is open about his intentions and we can say, ”Get thee behind me Satan”! Also, the vast majority of t-shirts that I have seen on Ebay can be viewed as disrespectful, because they portray the image of Christ and Mary the Mother of God. But as Christians, we pray for the ones who wear those shirts and pray they will come to know the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit more and more and they will realize that those shirts should not be worn. Maybe that is the path that God has chosen for them, as we do not know the path that God has chosen for them. One note on the courts. The Tbilisi City Court is not obligated to follow the European Court of Human Rights. What good would any countries constitution be if the EU’s Constitution overrides it? That is one of the reasons that England left the EU. The EU was ordering England to abide by EU rules and laws and not their own. That is also one of the reasons why I do not agree with the creation of the EU. The EU courts do not respect the Orthodox Church. When there is a conflict between “Human Rights” and “Church Rights”, “Human Rights” come first. They do not realize that the Orthodox Church has been practicing Human Rights since it came into existence from the first day.
Alexander Leitner7/23/2021 5:43 pm
Typical western hypocrisy! You can sell blasphemous T-Shirts and other stuff with Christ or the Mother of God on ebay without any problem..but if you do this with islamic stuff it is removed. Also on Youtube....etc
ACatharina7/23/2021 5:10 pm
What a childish provocation. Try a Muhammad design next time and see what happens.
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