The first-ever Tbilisi Pride will be taking place today (8 July), after being postponed in June.
‘Tomorrow, on 8 July, the team of Tbilisi Pride, together with our local and international supporters, will celebrate Pride,’ says the Facebook post announcing the march on the LGBTI group’s page.
‘The Ministry of Internal Affairs has a full resource to ensure the march takes place in a safe and secure environment. We hope that the Government of Georgia is fully aware of its responsibilities and will ensure the safety of each participant.’
A far-right group wants to disrupt the march
A far-right group has announced they will meet at the same time as the scheduled march to counterprotest.
The Facebook Page Alpha-Dominant, created two prior to the march, urged their followers to meet against the Pride march.
‘Tomorrow at 10:00 am we all meet in the Vera garden against LGBT propaganda,’ reads the description of a video posted on their page.
‘If the local authorities do not protect the Pride March, people will get killed,’ said political scientist Rémy Bonny. Bonny was in Georgia to assist the Tbilisi Pride two weeks ago.
The news of the march has been met with mixed reactions by Georgian politicians.
‘Despite several warning, they are still trying to come out and make this march happen. I call this a provocative march, which has nothing to do with pride,’ said former Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili.
Garibashvili is the current leader of the political council of the ruling party and addressed the situation during a TV interview on national television on 7 July.
‘The majority of our society is conservative, so their anger against this kind of parades is absolutely understandable.’
He then added: ‘I address to the minorities, stop irritating people, do not provoke rest of the society. In reality, they have zero problems. We are a tolerant nation. This is a fictional problem and provocation planned by the opposition party against our state.’
Postponing Tbilisi Pride
The march was due to take place on 22 June. 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 protesting the visit of a Russian lawmaker.
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.
Georgia, however, has 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.