UPDATED: LGBT activists leave, conservative groups continue rallying

A group opposing to Tbilisi Pride scheduled on June 18-23 rallies in front of the State Chancellery. Photo: Agenda.ge

Agenda.ge, 15 Jun 2019 - 02:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Updated: 02:29, June 15

LGBT activists have left the territory of the Administrative building of the Government of Georgia on mini buses provided by the Interior Ministry after the six-hour peaceful demonstration on Friday.

The activists demanded protection of their rights during the Tbilisi Pride, which is set to be held in Tbilisi between June 18-23 to raise the awareness about sexual minorities.

Conservative groups, who rallied against the LGBT Pride Week, which is the main reason of yesterday’s demonstrations, remain in front of the Chancellery.

Some of the civic activists, including Nata Peradze, who joined the LGBT demonstration later on Friday also stays there.

The LGBT activists said while leaving the territory that they will not surrender but rather continue communication over the next week's issues with the authorities behind the closed doors.

Earlier: 23:35, June 14

Nine people have been detained at today’s rally in front of the Administrative building of the Government of Georgia where the LGBT activists were confronted by the radical conservative groups over the upcoming Tbilisi Pride.

LGBT activists announced earlier on Friday that they would gather in the evening demanding from the state officials, including Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, to share their position about the Tbilisi Pride scheduled next week.

The organisers of Tbilisi Pride decided to gather after the Georgian Patriarchate released a statement condemning the pride and calling on the state officials not to support the LGBT propaganda.

However, some radical groups, including a Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze, who has been rather harsh against the LGBT activists and supporters, came to the Administrative building of the Government of Georgia much earlier to hinder the peaceful demonstrators from exercising their right to freedom of assembly and expression.

Photo: Agenda.ge

Police kept the radical groups inside a circle to protect the LGBT activists, who were forced to move a bit below, to the stairs. The activists said they would not leave the place until the state officials make statement and promise they would denounce violence and admit their rights.

Those nine detained by police were from the conservative groups who tried to break the circle to attack the LGBT activists. One of the detainees even assaulted the demonstrators and threw eggs over them, according to interior ministry.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia stated at the end of May that they will be unable to protect the participants of the events if they are to hold activities on the crowded Rustaveli Avenue or on Freedom Square in central Tbilisi, as per the organisers’ programme.

Photo: Agenda.ge

Strategic Communication Advisor to the Prime Minister Irakli Chikovani, who is accompanying Mamuka Bakhtadze in United States told TV Pirveli that he is sure the law enforcers will do their best to avoid further escalation of the situation.

He said the organisers of Tbilisi Pride should continue consultations with the Interior Ministry, which will surely offer them alternative ways to protect their legal rights.

Chikovani also underscored that as PM Bakhtadze is holding meetings with US officials he cannot make any statement now, but he will supposedly share his opinion over the issue as soon as he finishes his trip.

As of now, none of the groups plan to leave the place and keep until their demands are met. The LGBT activists, still sitting on the stairs outside the Administrative building of the Government of Georgia, are waiting for the official statements in their support, while the radical groups claim they will not go home until they make sure Tbilisi Pride will not take place at all.

Photo: Agenda.ge

  • LGBT Pride Week is set to be held between June 18-23 in Tbilisi to raise the awareness about sexual minorities.
  • The pride event organisers say that they have plans to carry out social campaigns during the week and advocate for policy changes.
  • An international conference, a performance and a pride march are scheduled for the pride week.  
  • Since May 17, 2013, when crowds in central Tbilisi streets harshly opposed LGBT supporters on the Day Against Homophobia, no large-scale event of sexual minorities has been held in the country.