Georgian Court fines condom-manufacturing company for insulting believers' feelings
A Tbilisi court has ruled that condoms produced by Aiisa, a Georgian company that manufactures condoms, ‘offend national morality and dignity’.
Aiisa started producing condoms from 2017.
The condom packages depict, among others, the Georgian Queen Tamar, who has been canonized by the Georgian Church, and the symbol of Tbilisi – the Mother of Georgia Statue. Furthermore, there are phrases of the Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli and some coarse expressions, while some religious sayings are also ridiculed.
The case, claiming that the images on the condom packages were ‘non-ethical, an insult to public morality and to the beliefs of a certain group, as well as national dignity’, had been brought to the court by the Tbilisi City Hall.
Lasha Tavartkiladze, the judge, wholeheartedly shares the dudgeon of the Tbilisi city hall. He has fined the company 500 GEL (about 200 USD) for using Queen Tamar’s image. The court has also mandated the company to withdraw the condoms of three particular images from sale before 14 May and disallow such prints in the future.
Anania Gachechiladze, the owner of Aiisa, told on.ge that there would be no need to withdraw the condoms from sale:
“There will not be any (condoms) left by the 14th. They will be sold out in 5 minutes. I am going to increase the price of these designs to 10 lari (4 dollars) as exclusive ones, and I will tell everybody to grab them while they’re still there.”
There were several protest actions taking place against the condoms, under the slogan ‘Georgians will not forgive anyone for insulting Queen Tamar’. Conservative and ultra-rights groups have demanded a ban on the production of these condoms and have requested that they be seized.
The patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church has also made a stand against the company. In a statement in March 2018 the church accused the company of ‘insulting the feelings of believers and manifesting blasphemy’, as well as ‘immoral behavior’.
However, Aiisa has defenders too. Whilst the majority of social network users find the actions of the company to be completely unacceptable, the other, minor part, sees the court decision and attacks on the company as a restriction on the freedom of expression. Some Facebook users wrote:
“This court decision is a dangerous precedent of limiting the freedom of expression.”
“The Soviet Union is back!”
“The freedom of expression often implies the freedom of expressing in forms that are unacceptable for us. This is why all who are for freedom, who do not want to be the morality police, are appalled by the court decision.”
The company’s lawyers are going to appeal the court decision at the appellate court, and also apply to the constitutional court.
• Aiisa is the first Georgian company to produce condoms. The idea of the new startup came to Anania Gachechiladze, the company director, ‘due to the monotony of the market and problems with the supply-demand ratio’. According to her, light sarcasm is a part of the concept of a brand. On the company’s Facebook page it is written that the purpose of the company is ‘to destroy the stereotypes of the Georgian society in regard to sex and sexuality’.
• Aiisa sells its products online.