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A Georgian condom company that uses creative advertising on its packaging has won a freedom of expression case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The case involved Georgian condom brand Aiisa, whose owner had to pay a small fine and recall its products in 2018 after Georgian courts ruled its advertising was unethical and “discredited religious symbols.”
According to Tbilisi and appellate courts, the sexual nature of the packaging that used images of historical figures of Georgia and religious themes violated moral principles.
However, the Strasbourg-based ECHR said on July 22 that Georgian courts violated Aiisa-owner Ani Gachechiladze’s right to freedom of expression.
In its ruling, ECHR found the „views on ethics of the Georgian Orthodox Church took precedence in the balancing of various values“ protected under the European Convention on Human Rights and Georgia’s constitution.
“In a pluralist democratic society, those who choose to exercise the freedom to manifest their religion must tolerate and accept the denial by others of their religious beliefs and even the propagation by others of doctrines hostile to their faith,” the court ruled.
In addition to using religious themes, Aiisa has also used its packaging to mock Georgian politicians, support LGBT rights, and make sexual jokes.
It previously gained prominence for using an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face on the condom packaging with the inscription “Every D**k Needs Protection.”
The four designs contained an image of King Tamar, a canonized female monarch of Georgia, a hand gesture with crossed fingers resembling Christ’s gesture, a cartoon of a crown titled Miraculous Victory, referring to the Didgori Battle of 1121, and a line from of a popular satirical Georgian song.
The dispute was initially launched after Georgian Idea, an ultraconservative group appealed about the brand’s advertising to the Supervision Department of Tbilisi municipality administration, which referred the case to the Tbilisi City Court.
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