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Tbilisi Pride postponed, activists fly rainbow flag above anti-LGBTI rally

Tbilisi Pride postponed, activists fly rainbow flag above anti-LGBTI rally

A rainbow flag flying across the sky of Tbilisi to protest the cancellation of Tbilisi Pride

Tbilisi Pride was due to take place today (8 July) but was prevented from going ahead.

This is the second attempt for local LGBTI activists who have seen their efforts shut down on 22 June.

Tbilisi Pride due to happen today

This would have been the first-ever march in Georgia.

A positive attitude from local activists, who had announced the march on socials, had LGBTI people in the former Soviet republic hoping for the best.

‘Tomorrow, on 8 July, the team of Tbilisi Pride, together with our local and international supporters, will celebrate Pride,’ said 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.’

However, activists announced later today that the march wouldn’t take place.

It is not clear why Pride was not allowed to go ahead, but it is likely to be related to the safety of the participants.

Far-right group protesting Pride

Despite Pride couldn’t take place, LGBTI activists didn’t give up and tried to challenge a far-right group protesting Pride.

While the anti-LGBTI rally is taking place near the Parliament building, queer activists flew a drone carrying a rainbow flag.

‘We were not allowed to go out today for the Pride March, we flew the rainbow flag over homophobic protest in #Tbilisi,’ wrote Giorgi Tabagari. Tabagari is one of the leading activists behind Tbilisi Pride.

‘ICONIC! LGBTQI-people are not allowed to march in Georgia – so @TbilisiPride decided to fly over the city and the far-right homophobes with a drone and a rainbow flag. LOVE WINS,’ another user tweeted.

This video from media outlet Netgazeti shows the flag flying high above the head of the protestors.

At the moment it is unknown whether Pride will take place at a later date.

Earlier this month, an informal meeting between queer activists and the local Orthodox Church authorities seemed to have set a peaceful atmosphere.

Tabagari posted a shot of himself and other activists talking to members of the clergy.

‘Historic photo as many ppl say. It’s indeed the very first time when highest clergy of Georgian Orthodox Church and Queer activists had a conversation. It did feel a little bizarre but we have to start somewhere to ensure peaceful coexistence in Georgia,’ Tabagari wrote.

However, this didn’t prove enough for the march to go ahead today.

Attack to Tbilisi Pride offices

LGBTI activism has never been easy in Georgia. Following the announcement of a Pride parade, hate groups attacked the LGBTI activists’ offices. The attack resulted 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.

See also

When is Pride? Check out our International Pride Calendar

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