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Govt Called to Protect Activists in Marking Anti-Homophobia Day

Over dozen of civil society and rights groups have called on the authorities to secure safety of activists, who plan to mark International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.

“We, the Georgian civil society [organizations] and activists, want to express solidarity towards LGBT people on May 17, 2015,” a statement joined by the 17 non-governmental organizations reads.

“Our goal is to raise public awareness on the significance of freedom of expression. We want to inform the public and government about the decision of the Strasburg-based court related to the May 17, 2012 case,” it says.

The statement refers to the case won by the Tbilisi-based LGBT rights group, Identoba, in the European Court of Human Rights in connection to violence that took place on May 17, 2012. The Strasbourg-based court said in its ruling earlier this week that police failed to provide adequate protection to a small group of gay rights activists against attacks when they were marking International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2012. One year later group of LGBT rights activists faced violence of much larger scale, when they were attacked by thousands of anti-gay demonstrators, led by Orthodox clerics. Fearing homophobic violence, LGBT rights groups opted against public events to mark the day in 2014. In an obvious attempt to counter the International Day Against Homophobia, the Georgian Orthodox Church introduced last year, what it calls, “Family Day” on May 17. 

“Taking into account past experience, this year non-governmental organizations are again calling on the Georgian Interior Ministry to provide for security of people and prevent more effectively any form of violence and discrimination. It is also important for everyone to realize personal responsibility related to organizing any activity,” civil society and rights groups said in their joint statement.

Location and other details of the planned event for May 17 are kept in secrete for security reasons, and journalists were asked to undergo “accreditation”. LGBT rights group, Identoba, which is one of the organizers of the event, said journalists from media outlets “known for their homophobic” reporting “will not be allowed” at the event and others, who will be “accredited”, will be contacted by organizers themselves for “invitation”.
 
“We hope that the Georgian government will be able to protect efficiently the right of expression, assembly and manifestation of its citizens,” reads the statement joined by 17 organizations, among them Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association; Transparency International Georgia; International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy; Identoba; Tolerance and Diversity Institute; Article 42 of the Constitution; Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center; Georgian Democracy Initiative and Media Development Foundation; Georgia’s Reforms Associates; Civil Development Agency.

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