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Police Pledge to Protect Tbilisi Pride Week

Georgia’s Ministry of Interior has said it will take all appropriate measures to ensure safety of closed format events planned by LGBT+ rights group Tbilisi Pride, to maintain the rule of law, and protect the freedom of expression and assembly of each person during the pride week.

In the statement released on June 27, the Ministry noted that its representatives are in constant communication with the pride week organizers to ensure its events are held in a safe environment.

It said a number of meetings to this end were held with the involvement of the representatives of the UN, local and international organizations, the Office of the Public Defender, the diplomatic corps, along with the Ministry officials and Tbilisi Pride members.

Asserting that it condemns any violence, the Ministry called on the opponents of the Pride Week to adhere to the law, follow the rightful demands of the police, and not to exceed the limits of the right to assembly and manifestation permitted by law.

“If otherwise, the police will act in accordance with its mandate, each case of violation will be immediately foiled and followed by the strict legal response.”

The police statement comes as Tbilisi Pride yesterday expressed concerns regarding safety of the forthcoming events, stating they have “serious concerns, doubts, and fears about the process of high-ranking officials actively making damaging, discrediting, and violence-encouraging statements about Tbilisi Pride and LGBTQ community in recent days.”

The LGBT+ rights group raised alarms as far-right Alt-Info group, which spearheaded last year’s homophobic pogroms in Tbilisi and now acts as Conservative Movement political party, is actively mobilizing against the upcoming Pride Week.

The Tbilisi Pride demanded from the government to “publicly and unequivocally declare” that it will protect their events. It also urged authorities to prosecute the organizers of the July 5 2021 homophobic pogroms, in which over 50 journalists covering counter-demonstrations to Tbilisi Pride were brutally assaulted by far-right mobs.

The Media Advocacy Coalition, a group of media watchers, released a statement in support of Pride Week which reiterated the call to protect the events and also demanded that the government safeguard the professional rights of journalists.

This year, Tbilisi Pride refrains from holding March for Dignity pride parade over safety issues, and instead opts for hosting a screening of the Georgian LGBT film “Wet Sand,” a regional conference uniting Georgian, and international LGBT+ activists, and a Pride Festival to bring together local and international artists.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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