A group of 14 local civil society organizations, called on the government and the Ministry of Interior to investigate hate groups’ actions and statements on June 14 and June 16; to take “preventive measures” so that the LGBTQI community can exercise their freedoms of assembly and expression during the Pride Week events; and to “efficiently respond to threats and challenges” posed by the rise of the extremist groups.
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.
In a statement released on June 18, the CSOs emphasized that freedom, including freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, is guaranteed by the constitution irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity and other attributes. They also demanded that the government takes adequate measures against any possible violations of these rights.
“The public saw clearly that the LGBT+ activists were prevented from exercising their right outside the Chancellery on 14 June. They, as well as other peaceful citizens, journalists and representatives of the Public Defender, became a target of threats and violence on the part of the groups whose leaders have linksto the Russian Federation. ,” the statement reads.
The CSOs expressed concern over the June 16 developments, when homophobic groups led by businessman Levan Vasadze held a rally and announced about formation of the vigilante patrols against Tbilisi Pride organizers and queers.
They welcomed the Interior Ministry’s decision to investigate Levan Vasadze’s statement, adding that “the strengthening of such groups over the years is the result of the government’s inappropriate policies, inaction and often tolerant attitudes [towards them].”
The signatories said it was “especially alarming” that the Interior Ministry offered Tbilisi Pride organizers to refrain from holding the events and fail to give them guarantees of safety.
- Georgian Democracy Initiative
- Transparency International Georgia
- International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
- Society and Banks
- Media Development Foundation
- Partnership for Human Rights
- Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
- Tolerance and Diversity Institute
- Georgia’s Reforms Associates
- Center for Research Journalism and Economic Analysis
- Economic Policy Research Center
- Institute for Democracy and Safe Development
- UN Association of Georgia [due disclosure: UNAG is the patron organization of Civil.ge]