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Police Can’t Guarantee Pride Safety Outdoors – Ministry

The Interior Ministry released a statement on May 31, saying that a Pride Parade, an outdoor event with the participation of LGBTQI people, cannot be held at planned places and in its present format, citing the risks that persons involved in the event may face. Tbilisi Pride, a non-governmental organization, which organizes the event, said that they would protect their fundamental right – freedom of assembly.

The Interior Ministry also noted that it offered the group alternative places of gathering, which “will be safer for the participants.” According to the Tbilisi Pride, the police offered to hold events indoors – at a stadium or in a nightclub.

Tbilisi Pride, uniting LGBTQ and human rights activists, plans to hold the Pride Week on June 18-23, involving various social, cultural and political events, including the Pride Parade.

Mariam Kvaratskhelia, who spoke for Tbilisi Pride at a news briefing convened in response to police statement on May 31, said that the Ministry restricts their freedom of assembly, the right to manifestation and the freedom of expression. “We will respond adequately [to this restriction of freedoms] and plan to apply to the Strasbourg court [the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) – ed],” she said.

Kvaratskhelia also noted that the representatives of Tbilisi Pride made several attempts to discuss alternative routes and formats of the event with the Ministry of the Interior, but “they said strictly that it was impossible to protect our constitutional right,” she added.

Giorgi Tabagari, another organizer of the event, noted that they offered the Interior Ministry to hold the event in a closed space, such as stadium or a club instead of the Rustaveli Avenue, where manifestations and rallies are habitually held.

“We did our best to avoid what is frequently dubbed as “a provocation” by certain groups. We [avoided confrontation] on May 17 [The International Day agasinst Homophobia day, which was taken over by the conservative groups in Georgia as the “Family Purity” day] to avoid additional tensions in the public, but the government failed to reciprocate. That is regrettable,” he said.

The organization said that the work over the event continues and the planned activities have not been cancelled so far. “We will have communication with international organizations; we will try to communicate with the Interior Ministry. We will spare no efforts to be able to come out in the streets safely,” it said.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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