Hundreds celebrate Orthodox-led Family Value Day

The banner reads: Family Value Day, 17 May 2014 - 18:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Hundreds of Orthodox believers celebrated the inaugural Family Value Day in Tbilisi today.

At the same time, the group protested the recently adopted Anti-Discrimination law claiming it was a "gay propaganda law”.

Demonstrators marched peacefully down the main street of Tbilisi, from the Philharmonic Concert Hall to Holy Trinity Cathedral of Sameba while stating the Church was against violence.

Surrounded by a heavy police presence, participants of the Family Value Day rally carried banners that read "Stop gay propaganda in Georgia”, "A man will never be called a wife” and "Family is the marriage of a woman and a man.”

The event was mainly peaceful however there was a small verbal attack between rally participants and others on the street.

Today’s celebration, titled "A day of Family Strength and Respect for Parents” was launched by the Orthodox Church a few weeks ago to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

On this day last year thousands of people were involved in a violent clash in central Tbilisi where IDAHO supporters were physically attacked and forced to end their peaceful demonstration.

This year, to avoid a confrontation between supports and opposition of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement, the non-governmental organization behind the peaceful protest last year, Identoba, stated they would not hold a public demonstration.

Earlier today, some local think-tanks working for gender equality and LGBT rights called on the Government and political parties to be secular actors throughout today’s planned demonstrations.

A statement signed by numerous non-governmental groups argued for authorities to take appropriate preventive measures to maintain peace and protect human rights in Georgia. Those who signed the statement included the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Article 42, The Democratic Initiative (GDI), Identoba, Women's Fund in Georgia, Taso Foundation, Media Development Fund (MDF) and Tolerance and Diversity Institute.

"We focus on the negative experience of May 17, 2013, when demonstrators of the anti-homophobic event were evacuated by counter-demonstrators in the streets without any reason”, read the statement.

"Hopefully, this year on May 17, the state will respond to the challenges of human rights and will take all measures as a secular state for the security of its citizens.