Public Defender of Georgia Concludes that Employees of Kiwi Café were Subjected to Discrimination

On April 25, 2017, the Public Defender of Georgia issued a recommendation concerning direct sexual discrimination and discrimination on grounds of appearance towards the employees of the vegan Kiwi Café. The addressee of the recommendation was a physical person. The applicants' interests were represented at the Public Defender's Office by the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center - EMC.

The applicants indicated that they were subjected to discrimination by a private owner, who canceled a lease agreement with them over a building where their café was located. According to the applicants, discrimination was motivated by their appearance and alleged sexual orientation. The reason of the abovementioned was the incident that took place on May 29, 2016, when members of the Neo-Nazi group Bergman and local residents verbally and physically abused the employees of the café and brought meat products to the café in order to humiliate the vegan ideology. This was followed by confrontation between the staff of the café and the members of the Bergman group, while later conflict took place between the staff of the café and the local residents.

In the recommendation the Public Defender pointed out that the real motive for the termination of the lease agreement was based on the stereotypical attitudes of the owner of the building about people with specific appearance and their alleged association with the LGBT group. According to the Public Defender, violation of human rights cannot be justified by the stereotypical views of the community or any particular person, who evaluate a group of individuals or an individual according to their own personal views and expect illusionary threat from them. The Public Defender considered that the fact that the applicant's appearance was unacceptable to the owner of the property could not justify the termination of the lease agreement, since stereotype-based treatment cannot be regarded as a legitimate aim that could justify different treatment.

Consequently, the Public Defender addressed the private owner with a recommendation to refrain from discriminatory treatment on any grounds in the contractual or other kind of relations in the future.

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