The study conducted by the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) identifies the challenges and needs of religious organizations, cases of violations of the freedom of religion and evaluates the state policy and practice in this regard.
The findings are based on interviews with up to 70 representatives of 33 religious organizations in Georgia.
An assessment of the instances when religious and secular space converged in recent years reveals that the state’s preferential treatment of the dominant church forms a basis for discrimination and a systematic violation of religious freedom.
As a general rule, the state fails to effectively respond to offenses motivated by religious intolerance directed against religious minorities. Furthermore, state bodies are sometimes involved in the process of discrimination. The assessments, which have been produced by representatives from a wide spectrum of religious organizations surveyed within the scope of following research, reveal varied tendencies of religious freedom violations.
Part of the problem stems from the state’s reluctance to address the persistent concerns that various religious organizations had for years. This lead to the creation of new state institutions, such as the State Agency on Religious Affairs, but we have also seen growing occurrences of islamophobia and a drastic increase in the number of offenses motivated by religious intolerance.
In addition to identifying problems, this research offers specific recommendations to the state institutions; the implementation of which will contribute to the elimination of religiously motivated discrimination and will create more secure guarantees for the protection of religious freedom and the development of an equal and tolerant environment.
The study is conducted by the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) within the ‘Advancing National Integration in Georgia’ (ANI) project’s Small Grants Mechanism, implemented by the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG) and the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) with the financial support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).