Police reported that it detained nine people who shouted slurs and threw eggs at the LGBTQI rights activists at the Government Administration building.
The activists, among them organizers of Tbilisi Pride, gathered to demand government action after the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate released a statement calling Tbilisi Pride, planned for June 18-23 “absolutely unacceptable” and demanded from the government “not to allow it”.
“The Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church issued a statement containing elements encouraging violence and calling on the authorities to prevent organization of a peaceful march oriented on protection of human rights,” organizers of Tbilisi Pride said.
Activists called on Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze to make public statements about developments surrounding Tbilisi Pride. “It is high time and critical for our authorities to make crystal clear where they stand and what values they serve,” they stated.
Some of the radical groups and priests had already gathered ahead of the planned rally by LGBTQI activists, stating it as their objective to prevent the gathering from taking place. They shouted insults and threw small objects at the activists. Police cordon was deployed to prevent violence.
Levan Vasadze, self-styled “knight” and ultra-conservative was the most visible presence at the counter-gathering. Vasadze, member of the World Congress of Families with connections to Russian “Eurasianist” movement, rallied against “foreign interference”.
“There was a meeting in one of the foreign embassies [in support of of Tbilisi Pride]. We know that this is a direct and rough interference into our internal affairs (…) [The West] tries to impose on us non-traditional, anti-Christian, anti-Caucasian, anti-Georgian norms, which shall never become the norm here,” said Vasadze echoing the anti-Western tenor of the Patriarchate’s earlier statement.
Inviting his supporters to gather, Vasadze said “I am inviting mainly men. What needs to be done, needs to be done by men.”
Guram Falavandishvili, head of the Orthodox Parents’ Union, notorious for its homophobic stance, said if the police fails to remove Tbilisi Pride activists, they “would do it themselves”, saying Pride amounted to a “spiritual rape” of the society.
Deacon Andria Jgamadze, who heads the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate’s press office was present in front of the Government Administration building, telling the Georgian bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he came to “assess the situation.” He placed the responsibility for tensions “on a group that has encouraged these developments” and referred to the earlier official statement.
The only official reaction so far came from Irakli Chikovani, advisor of the Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze who is currently in the US for an official visit. Chikovani said “it is important for everyone to exercise maximum restraint in expressing their opinions, so that “they don’t violate others’ rights”.
“I can see that the law enforcement agencies are mobilized to a maximum. To avert such threats the consultations that [Tbilisi Pride] organizers have with the Ministry of Interior shall continue. The Ministry will offer them adequate possibilities [to hold the events],” Chikovani said.
Civil.ge is following this developing story