Today Georgia’s first-ever Pride march, which was set to take place in the capital city of Tbilisi, has been scrapped due to anti-LGBT+ counterprotests. This is the third time the event, called ‘The March for Dignity’, has been cancelled in less than a month, despite organiser’s attempts.
The rally, which was set to take place outside the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was called off because of ‘a lack of security in the country at the moment’ after the secret location of the march was leaked online, according to Pride co-chair Giorgio Tabagari.
Despite the cancellation, anti-LGBT+ protestors still gathered in the city to show their opposition to the ‘amoral‘ event. Clerics and ultra-right nationalists groups were among those who congregated on Rustaveli Avenue, one of the main streets in the capital.
Earlier this week, the Georgian Patriarchate ( the country’s Orthodox Christian church), made a statement saying that it is ‘unacceptable to promote sodomy’. Today, clergymen of the church marched from Republic Square to the Parliament of Georgia to prevent future Pride events happening in Tbilisi.
The rights of the LGBT+ community in Georgia have been precarious in recent years, as same-sex marriage is still banned by the constitution.
A survey taken in 2011 also hinted at the widespread homophobia throughout the country as 87% of respondents answered that homosexuality ‘could never be justified’.
On this year’s IDAHOT Day (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia), ten men were arrested for painting ‘All love is equal’ on a fence outside a Georgian Orthodox Patriarch’s office. Police later reported that the men could face charges ranging from vandalism to disobeying police orders.
The threat of violence was palpable in Tbilisi as a prominent businessman and conservative Levan Vasadze called on his supporters to bring belts to use on LGBT+ marchers, directing followers to break down police lines and ‘take out the propagandists of perversion’ and ‘resist (LGBT+ activists) with our bare hands’.
This is not the first time a Pride event has been opposed in Georgia, a former Soviet state. In 2013, around 50 LGBT+ activists were attacked by counter-demonstrators while demonstrating in Tbilisi. After today’s events, it’s clear that the journey towards equality in Georgia still has a long way to go.
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