Public Defender's Statement on MP Gogi Topadze’s Speech in Parliament

The Public Defender responds to MP Gogi Topadze’s statement, made after listening to the President’s annual report at the parliamentary session on 3 February 2016, which contained stigma against people with Down syndrome.

Persons with disabilities belong to a vulnerable group in Georgia. Attitudes containing stigma and stereotypes towards them are deeply rooted in our society. Many of those persons are isolated from the society, due to which they often become victims of discrimination when using their fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given all this, it is particularly worrisome when politicians and famous public activists make statements containing hate speech, which further deepens the existing stereotypes and contributes to the establishment of wrong attitudes.

The term Down cannot be used as a degrading word. Down syndrome is not a disease; it is a genetic change that causes different types of characteristics.

The state is obliged to properly ensure respect for the dignity and rights of these individuals. Any statement should serve to create positive attitudes towards the persons with disabilities, to protect them and their rights. In this regard, special responsibility lies with politicians, high officials.

The Public Defender calls on every person in Georgia, especially high public officials, to refrain from making statements containing stigma and discriminatory attitudes against people with disabilities; moreover, to ensure equal protection of their rights and to strengthen activities for raising public awareness on the issue.

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