Turmoil around Tbilisi Pride continues, LGBT march date kept confidential

  • Tbilisi Pride was scheduled between 18 and 23 June. Photo: on.ge.

Agenda.ge, 19 Jun 2019 - 16:14, Tbilisi,Georgia

Turmoil around the first Tbilisi Pride - a week-long event dedicated to the rights of LGBT individuals -  continues as organisers decided yesterday to hold the events despite threats coming from nationalist groups.

One of the organisers of the event Nino Bolkvadze refrained from naming the date of the march which will be the final stage of the event  at the end of the week and warned possible participants regarding existing threats.

What I can say now is that all the security measures which might have been provided by the pride organisers are in place. Many people, including the police and high ranking officials are involved to ensure the peaceful conduct of the events. Of course, there are risks and the government is responsible for avoiding them,” Bolkvadze stated earlier today.

She said that the LGBT march will not be held on the central streets of Tbilisi.

LGBT supporters urge everone to join them. Photo: Tbilisi Pride. 

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria reported on June 17 that “taking security threats into account” the Georgian Interior Ministry said no to pride organisers to hold the events.

However, the organisers did not accept the refusal and decided to go ahead anyway.

‘It’s not the right of expression when one aims to insult others’

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria says that everyone in the country has the right of expression.

However, if one aims to insult others during an event it is a crime. Expression must be peaceful, otherwise it is something else,” Lomjaria said.

She believes that the Interior Ministry must ensure peace during Tbilisi Pride.

As for me, I will stand there, where the right of even a single person is violated,” she said.

Anti-LGBT groups: we were promised pride won’t be held

A leader of anti-LGBT movement, businessman Levan Vasadze says that the government promised them that the pridearch would not be held.

We will come out anytime and never allow the events if we see that the government fails to fulfil the promise,” Vasadze said.

Levan Vasadze says that LGBT march will never be allowed in Georgia. Photo: 1TV.

Church makes second statement on Tbilisi Pride

After an appeal to the Georgian government on June 14 not to allow the pride parade to take place, the Georgian Patriarchate released another statement earlier today, which says that the church is against any aggression.

The statement urged clerics and parish to refrain from aggression and the activities which are not agreed with the Patriarchate.

Calls from Amnesty International

Amnesty International, a London-based international non-governmental organisation on human rights,  has urged the Georgian authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Tbilisi Pride participants “amidst unprecedented threats” of violence including from homophobic groups.

The Georgian Bureau of the Voice of America has cited the US Department of State by saying that suppression of people for their sexual orientation is unacceptable.

Public Defender  Nino Lomjaria has received threats for her statements supporting Tbilisi Pride. Photo: Public Defender's press office. 

Tbilisi Pride turmoil in short

  • Back in February 2019 LGBT groups and their supporters announced plans on hold the first ever Tbilisi Pride between 18 and 23 June to raise public awareness about sexual minorities in the country.
  • They asked the police to protect their rights and provide for their safety during several events, especially during the march in central Tbilisi at the end of the pride week.
  • However, the ministry responded this would be impossible if such events were held on the most crowded central streets of Tbilisi, on Freedom Square or Rustaveli Avenue.
  • On June 14 the Georgian Patriarchate urged the government to cancel the pride week to avoid “a very possible confrontation.”
  • The pride organisers called the statement  “an appeal to violence” and decided to protest upon the statement in front of the administration building of the government of Georgia.

Interior Ministry says that they had warned Tbilisi Pride organisers on possible threats. Photo: Interior Ministy press office. 

  • However, before their arrival, ultra-right and national groups, headed by businessman Levan Vasadze, arrived at the scene.
  • Police did not allow the LGBT supporters stand in front of the administration building, made a cordon between pride supporters and their opposers “who acted very aggressively, throwing eggs and others items.”
  • Police detained 28 during the rally, from ultra-national groups, releasing 21 later.
  • Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said on June 17  that human rights in Georgia, including those of sexual minorities, are protected and the issue has been “artificially exacerbated.”
  • 13 local NGOs expressed support for Tbilisi Pride in their joint statement on June 18.