Religious conservatives in the Eurasian country of Georgia have called for the shutdown of a regional condom company, Aiisa, over its release of condom wrappers depicting revered religious figures and mocking those who think no homosexuals exist in the region. This Georgia condoms incident reveals just how conservative the country remains.
The Georgia condoms kerfuffle
The condoms in question come with different wrappers. Although some of the condoms feature images of Batman, Russian political figures Vladimir Putin and Josef Stalin and blank spaces for writing one’s telephone number, one of the most controversial Georgia condoms features an image of Queen Tamara, the medieval ruler who presided over the country’s Golden Age. Tamara is known as the “Mother of Georgia” and was canonized as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Along with a cartoon image of Queen Tamar, the wrapper contains the names of religious holidays and lines from Shota Rustaveli’s suggestively named epic poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin,” a 12th century masterpiece of Georgian literature that idealizes Tamar as the ultimate embodiment of love while proclaiming equality between men and women.
Another condom, featuring a rainbow-colored speech bubble ironically proclaims “In Georgia gays don’t exist” — a jab at social conservatives who think the religious country is somehow too pure to have homosexuals living within it.
According to local non-English reports, George Liluashvili, chairman of the country’s right-wing nationalist Sakartvelo Party, is “convinced that such a design of condom packages foments civil confrontation and discord in the country, provokes tension and unrest.”
Liluashvili says, “We demand to immediately ban this company, its founders and employees there, any commercial activities in Georgia, as well as punish those partner organizations that developed the design and carry out the production and sale of the company’s products.”
The LGBTQ rights behind the Georgia condoms kerfuffle
LGBTQ rights in Georgia are a mixed bag. Although a 2011 questionnaire found 91.5% of respondents calling homosexuality “completely unacceptable,” the country has laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and the country allows LGBTQ people to donate blood or change their gender.
Nevertheless, marriage, adoption and military service remain denied to its openly LGBTQ citizens.
LGBTQ Georgians also report widespread violence and discrimination against them. Violent religious counter-protesters shut down a 2012 and 2013 march to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia.
What do you think of the Georgia condoms kerfuffle? Sound off in the comments.
Feature image by Mukhina1 via iStock