Tbilisi Pride asks Georgian authorities to ensure safety of Pride Week demonstrators
Tbilisi Pride urges authorities to ensure the safety of participants
Tbilisi Pride held a special briefing amid the upcoming Pride Week and called on Georgian authorities to ensure the safety of every participant. The statement was supported by the Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria, who called on the Minister of Internal Affairs to ensure the safe and uninterrupted conduct of all events scheduled for Pride Week.
What is Tbilisi Pride calling for?
According to the organization, the Ministry of Internal Affairs guarantees the safe conduct of all three events.
“As they announced, they will make a statement about this in the near future. An investigation into the facts of threats and calls for violence has also been launched. We are concerned that serious suspicions and fears have arisen in recent days due to statements by high-ranking officials against Tbilisi Pride and the LGBT community that damage and discredit it and encourage violence. In particular, Irakli Garibashvili [Georgian Prime Minister] accuses us of anti-state activities and artificially tries to link us with the activities of political parties.[Chairman of the ruling party] Irakli Kobakhidze says he does not see the guilt of the leaders of [the radical right-wing pro-Russian party] Alt-Info in organizing the July 5 events, thereby creating a syndrome of impunity and stimulating identical threats this year”, the organization says.
Public Defender’s Statement
Public Defender Nino Lomjaria appeals to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia with the demand to:
- Prevent possible violent actions, take timely and effective measures so that the organizers and participants of the Tbilisi Pride do not feel any threat from violent groups;
- Make sure all activities scheduled for Dignity Week are safe and undisrupted. Carry out appropriate work to protect the territory adjacent to the Tbilisi Pride office;
- Conduct an effective investigation into alleged threats and incitement to violence in connection with Tbilisi Pride Week launched on June 6, 2022;
- Respond promptly to possible violations.
What happened on July 5, 2021
On July 5, a March of Honour was scheduled to take place in Tbilisi as part of Tbilisi Pride Week. The procession to the Rustaveli metro station was scheduled for 18:00. However, the Patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church soon announced its action against the march. It called on her supporters to take to the streets and defend the country from a “perverted way of life”.
On the morning of July 5, homophobic groups marched to the parliament. First, they smashed opposition tents that had been standing in front of the parliament building for months, and then attacked journalists who were covering the events. On July 5, a real hunt for journalists took place in Tbilisi – radicals attacked 53 media representatives.
The priests urged the audience to violence. “You are obliged to use violence for the sake of the Motherland”, Archpriest Spiridon told the audience.
- The history of Georgia’s LGBT+ community’s struggle for equal rights and non-discrimination
- Media hunted: Over twenty reporters injured during anti-Pride rally in Tbilisi
Observers believe the attackers’ actions were provoked by Prime Minister Garibashvili’s July 5 statement. Garibashvili blamed the organizers of the “March of Dignity” for the possible aggravation of the situation, and urged them not to go to Rustaveli Avenue.
The March of Dignity was cancelled, but the violence on Rustaveli Avenue continued for several more hours. According to journalists, an insufficient number of police officers were mobilized on the spot during the day. The Interior Minister said that maximum possible security forces were mobilized.
According to media representatives, homophobes purposefully targeted them. Some journalists required serious medical intervention.