17 May: International Day Against Homophobia and Family Purity Day in Tbilisi
Two parallel rallies were held in Tbilisi on 17 May.
While LGBT-activists and their supporters were celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia at the Georgian Government’s Chancellery, clergymen and their congregation gathered outside the parliament building to mark the Family Purity Day.
Those who rallied at the Government’s Chancellery, called for the protection of LGBT rights. Meanwhile, the participants in the rally outside parliament claimed that Georgia was a traditional country and that ‘it is unacceptable for Georgia if a woman shares a bed with another woman, and a man shares it with another man’.
Police forces were mobilized in the city center to prevent confrontation between the two camps.
The rally against homophobia lasted for just an hour. As the rally organizers pointed out, the time limit was set by the Interior Ministry.
The LGBT-activists were brought to the rally venue by specially mobilized, yellow mini-buses. The rally wasn’t announced through social media. Only a small group of individuals knew the rally time and venue.
Rally against homophobia in Tbilisi, 17 May, 2017. Photo: Sopho Aptsiauri
All the secrecy were necessary so as to avoid the developments that took place four years ago. A few dozen people, who joined a rally in Tbilisi on the International Day Against Homophobia back on 17 May 2013, were attacked and physically abused by the clergy and their adherents.
Contrary to the Anti-Homophobic Day, the Georgian Orthodox Church declared 17 May Family Purity Day. It was the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch, Ilia II, who put forward the aforesaid initiative.
Since then, the clergy and their adherents, equipped with icons and crosses, have been holding marches for three years.
The politicians from the ruling Georgian Dream team also joined the rally dedicated to Family Purity Day this year. Of note was Zakaria Kutsnashvili, an MP, who came to the rally wearing Chokha (a traditional man’s attire). The rally had no time restriction and lasted longer.
Family Purity Day, Tbilisi, 17 May, 2017. Photo: Levan Mukadze
A public prayer was held by the clergy at the Georgian Parliament; the Atskuri Virgin Mary icon was especially brought for the occasion. Afterwards, a concert was held, during which some patriotic songs were performed. Later on, the defenders of ‘family purity’ headed to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the Georgian Church leader, Ilia II, conducted a service and awarded the families with 6 and more children with ‘Motherland’s Devoted Parent’ certificates. 100 families will be awarded such certificates this year.
- 17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
- According to the Georgian Ombudsman, Ucha Nanuashvili, homophobia, transphobia and ‘hate speech’ are still a great problem in Georgia. In the Ombudsman’s own words, people are treated unequally and their rights are violated because of their gender identity and sexual orientation, while the authorities’ countermeasures are just formal and minimal.
- According to LGBT-activists, the security measures taken on 17 May once again prove how much the LGBT-community’s rights are violated and how complex the environment is which they have to live in.
Read JAMnews’ article about the life of transgender people in Georgia.