Two parallel rallies are scheduled to take place in Tbilisi on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), – a symbolic date for both the Georgian Orthodox Church and the gay rights organizations and activists.
The Orthodox parish, led by senior clerics, will gather at several locations on Rustaveli Avenue from early morning on Thursday, to mark the Family Purity Day, which was introduced in 2014 in an apparent attempt to counter the IDAHO celebrations.
Various events will be held across the city, including mass weddings and blessings of large families. Later, the participants will march to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, is reported to deliver a sermon.
Speaking at yesterday’s news briefing, Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze said the celebrations had “nothing to do with aggression,” and that the Church distanced itself “from any kind of violence.”
He then called on “all of those, who would like to express their sharp positions, to refrain from partaking in the celebrations,” and urged the police to prevent “any possible attempts of aggression or provocation, no matter who they might be or what their reasons might be.”
A group of several non-governmental organizations and gay rights activists will hold a parallel rally outside the Government building starting from 7 pm, about three hundred meters from Rustaveli Avenue.
“The LGBTQR activists, our friends, family members and supporters, representatives of local and international organizations and, what is most important, freedom-loving citizens of Georgia will gather to remind the society of the destructive consequences of hatred and aggression,” reads the joint statement released by the organizations.
Similar events have been held in Tbilisi in the last few years. In 2017, a group of LGBT activists and their supporters gathered outside the Government building amid heavy police presence.
In 2013, several thousand protesters, backed by radical Orthodox clergy, violently assaulted the attempted IDAHO rally.