Eight members of the conservative and ultra-nationalist group Georgian March were detained late on Tuesday while demonstrating at the Georgian Football Federation, demanding the dismissal of Guram Kashia, vice-captain of the Georgian national team, for wearing a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community during a match in the Netherlands earlier in October.
Anti-LGBT rally members detained at Football Federation
By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, November 2
Clashes occurred between the Georgian March members and the Patrol Police once the protesters started to use pyrotechnics.
The demonstrators claim that law enforcers misused their power and detained them for no reason.
The lawyer of the detained protesters, Tsira Javakhishvili, said that all the people detained at the rally in front of the Football Federation had been badly beaten. According to her, all the injuries have been documented in the relevant protocols.
The lawyer also stressed that two of the detained were so brutally beaten that they were hospitalized.
Kashia, who is also a defender for the Vitesse Dutch football club, says that the criticism towards him is “unacceptable”. According to him, according to the decision of the league, captains wore armbands in the colors of an LGBT flag within the campaign of the fight against violence.
“Everyone wore the armbands and no one can understand why there was such a reaction in Georgia. It was not my initiative to wear the armband. My business is sport, I want to be in football and do what I love," Kashia explained.
While some Georgians believe that Kashia betrayed Georgian traditions by expressing support to the LGBT community, but a lot of people have been defending him, including the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili.
The President released a statement saying the campaign that was brought against Guram Kashia is unacceptable for him.
“Every single person has the right of freedom of expression; we should respect people’s rights and freedoms. I condemn expressions of violence in any form...hatred and violence is unfamiliar for our society. Kashia has my support,” Margvelashvili said.
Along with a number of Georgian footballers, Mayor-elect of Tbilisi and former footballer of A.C. Milan Kakha Kaladze also supported Kashia.
“Freedom of expression is very important. We are a democratic country and every citizen has the right despite their nationality, religion or sexual orientation to express their opinions,” said Kaladze.