Organizers of Georgia’s first ever LGBTI march Tbilisi Pride called off the event yesterday (21 June).
The march was due to take place today (22 June) in the capital of the Eastern European country. However, threats from extreme right-wing groups and fierce opposition from the influential Orthodox Church made it difficult to go ahead.
Organizers had to postpone the march after police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to stop crowds. People were angered by the visit of a Russian lawmaker from storming the parliament building.
Tbilisi Pride won’t go ahead
‘There won’t be a march tomorrow,’ said Giorgi Tabagari, one of the Tbilisi Pride promoters.
LGBTI activists explained that the rally will take place at a later date.
‘But on the other hand, we acknowledge the ongoing political situation in the country. We think this is not the right time to do it.’
‘Dignity march temporarily postponed!’ reads a Facebook post on the group’s page.
‘Based on the developments in Rustaveli Avenue and the current tense political situation, the team of Tbilisi Pride decided to delay [the event] for a few days in the wake of current events.’
Tbilisi Pride offices were attacked
Ahead of the city’s parade, hate groups attacked the LGBTI activists’ offices resulting in a police evacuation on 19 June.
According to Pride organizers, Orthodox Christian groups gathered outside the office to condemn what they call a ‘provocation.’
‘We are living in a homophobic country where societal attitudes are not welcoming or inclusive,’ Tabagari told GSN ahead of the event.
‘Despite the fact in terms of legislation, Georgia is doing pretty fine, compared to other countries in the region and eastern Europe.’
Georgia, does in fact have pretty good policies regarding LGBTI people, including outlawing hate crimes and having anti-discrimination laws.
It sits about in the middle of ILGA’s (International LGBTI Association) Rainbow Europe ranking, which is a pretty good feat considering some of its closest neighbors – Azerbaijan, Iran, and Russian regions including Chechnya – regularly persecute LGBTI people.
Pride in Georgia
Georgian LGBTI activists are battling with the police in order to celebrate Pride.
As the powerful Orthodox Church and extremist groups actively protest against the LGBTI community, police claim it won’t be able to protect Pridegoers during a public event.
Protests turned violent at an IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) event on 17 May this year.
Following that, police told the Tbilisi Pride team that going ahead with their planned five-day festival would be ‘impossible’ and that they could not ensure safety for all.