The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, has called for calm after violence that erupted after aggressive anti-gay protesters, led by Orthodox clergy, thwarted a rally by a small group of gay rights activists to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.
“We distance from violence,” Patriarch Ilia II said in a televised remarks on Friday evening.
But referring to gay rights rally, he said: “It’s something that should not be propagandized.”
“We should know that this is a sin before the god. We can express our sorrow without interfering in anyone’s private life,” he said.
“I hope that everything will be calmed down. I call on our people on all sides to go from streets and return back homes and to pray for each other,” the Patriarch said.
On May 16 the Patriarch released a written statement calling on the authorities to ban the gay rights rally in downtown Tbilisi.
Speaking to Orthodox believers, gathered in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, after the May 17 developments in Tbilisi, a senior cleric, Bishop Jakob, said: “What happened today was the order coming from the nation.”
“You know very well that the United National Movement required two and a half months to gather five thousand people [for its April 19 rally] and then boasting: ‘how many people we gathered’. Today people came into [streets] on their own initiative... Several millions would have come [into the streets] if needed,” Bishop Jakob said.