A transgender woman remains in intensive care, fighting for life, two days after being beaten and stabbed in throat in what the rights groups suspect was hate crime.
Police are investigating the attack, which occurred late in the evening of October 14 in Ortachala neighborhood of Tbilisi, as an attempted murder.
The Interior Ministry said late on Sunday evening that the police arrested a suspected perpetrator.
Earlier on Sunday a small group of LGBT activists rallied outside the Interior Ministry in Tbilisi calling for a thorough and efficient investigation of the case and demanding from the authorities to take measures aimed at prevention of hate crimes.
Tbilisi-based Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) said it has documented up to 20 cases of attacks against transgender people this year.
“This [the October 14] brutal violence is not the first time when transgender people are attacked in Georgia. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been target of continues violence and discrimination from the society and the state institutions for years. The murder case of transgender woman Sabi Beriani in 2014 [who was stabbed to death and her apartment set on fire by a perpetrator] is one of the examples of that in which the court acquitted the accused man [of premeditated murder] because of prosecution’s failure to present enough evidence,” a group of human rights NGOs said in a joint statement on October 16.
The statement by Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center; Identoba; Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group; Open Society Georgia Foundation; Partnership for Human Rights, and Union “Sapari” also reads: “Regrettably, inefficient state policy against homophobic and transphobic crimes… flaws in the justice system, and absence of will to carry out policy based on equality, created environment of impunity in the society and turned LGBT community into the most marginalized group.”
“The Interior Ministry should demonstrate on a political level through public statements and systemic policies its firm position that the state will not condone hate-motivated crimes,” it says and calls on the Interior Ministry to investigate the October 14 attack on transgender woman and to also look into possible hate motive behind this crime.
The statement also calls on “political parties to publicly denounce this case and take a strong stance against homophobia and transphobia.”
Georgian President’s advisor on religious and ethnic minorities issues, Sophio Shamanidi, visited on Sunday a hospital in Tbilisi, where the attacked transgender woman is being treated.
“Any kind of violence has to be condemned, but it is especially appalling when violence targets people just because they are different from others,” Shamanidi told journalists in the hospital. “Everyone has the right to express themselves as they wish; everyone has the right to have an identity they choose.”
“Regrettably, despite of active efforts by the non-governmental organizations, homophobic and xenophobic trends are still strong; politicians’ homophobic expressions largely contribute to these [trends]. I am confident that the law enforcement agencies will investigate this case and I hope that this young person will recover,” she added.
In a statement on October 16, Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, called on the prosecutor’s office to look into possible hate motive of the crime.
“Unfortunately, in most of the cases, alleged hate motive is not considered during the investigation and/or it is ambiguous what kind of investigative actions are carried out in order to identify such a motive,” the Public Defender said.
“The Public Defender considers that finding the truth, including identifying the real motive of the crime, is necessary not only for administration of justice in one particular case, but also for the prevention of hate crimes in the future,” the Public Defender said.