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LGBT and Counter-rally Cancelled, only Family Purity Day Marked

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 18
(TBILISI)--On May 17, when the world marks the Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the movement protecting the LGBT rights in Georgia announced about the cancellation of their events, “to avoid civil confrontation.”

Following the announcement of the Equality Movement, the Georgian nationalist group, the Georgian March, also cancelled its counter- rally, planned on the same day and locations to oppose the supporters of the sexual minority and protect the national values, as they say.

On May 17, Georgia marked only the day of the Family Purity, established by the Georgian Patriarchate in 2014, in the wake of a harsh confrontation on May 17, 2013 between the LGBT community, the church representatives and the country’s conservative part of public.

In its special statement the Equality Movement said that the Georgian government and the police “have failed” to protect the rights of the sexual minority and that they saw threats from the country’s fascist and nationalist groups.

They stated that the threats became particularly obvious in the previous day, when the neo-Nazi groups arrived on Rustaveli Avenue on May 13 to oppose the protest there.

“We have had several meetings with the ministry this year and received security guarantees however we have been observing the political processes and social turbulence during the past few days in Tbilisi following the police raid of night clubs.

“We have seen that there were not only peaceful demonstrants on the Rustaveli Avenue but also illegal and out of control neo-Nazi groups forcing the government to use an unprecedented resource to stop hundreds of destructive citizens,” the Equality Movement stated.

“We, LGBT activists recognise all the existing and real threats and took a difficult decision to cancel our rally planned at the Administration Building of the Government of Georgia,” the statement reads.

Instead the LGBT supporters announced an online rally with the title Pure Parliament and appealed to the LGBT supporters to tag themselves at the old Parliament building at 7pm to reveal their support to the sexual minority groups.

The Georgian March responded shortly that they also cancelled their rallies. However, a leader of the Georgian Idea nationalist movement, Gia Korkotashvili stated that he would anyway arrive at the government building “to prevent any LGBT event.”

Korkotashvili was moved to the police station when he arrived at the Metro Liberty, in central Tbilisi. Three other members of the nationalist and Nazi groups were also detained on different locations in Tbilisi for disobedience to police and petty hooliganism.

Alongside the cancellation of the rallies, hundreds of Georgians marked the Family Purity Day in Tbilisi. They marched on central streets with icons.

“The fight against family and its values is the fight against God and the humanity,” said Bishop Shio, a locum tenens of the Patriarch Ilia II, at Kashueti Church on May 17.

The Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria stated that homophobic and transphobic attitudes in Georgia are closely linked to the rate of violence and discrimination against the LGBT community.

“The practice of the Public Defender shows that LGBT is one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of realization of the right to equality. Stereotypes and prejudices in the society daily endanger realization of important rights, such as the right to education, right to work, access to healthcare and various services, and freedom of peaceful assembly,” Lomjaria said.

The Day against Homophobia and Transphobia has been marked since 2004. The first such event was planned in Georgia in 2012. However, the church and the part of people opposed the rally.

In 2013 a large-scale confrontation took place in Tbilisi on the day, stirring an international outcry.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016 the LGBT supporters did not hold any rally. Only a silent performance was arranged in Tbilisi and several NGOs gathered to show their support to the LGBT community.

In 2017, May 17 was marked in a special circumstance: LGBT supporters gathered at police stations and they were transported to the administration building of the government of Georgia by law enforcers early in the morning. With the presence of police the LGBT supporters could hold an hour rally.