European Court finds police raid on LGBT NGO office in Tbilisi in 2009 motivated by hatred

  • The incident took place in Tbilisi in 2009, at the office of IF NGO. Photo: Tbilisi Pride-Instagram., 8 Oct 2020 - 15:15, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a police raid on an LGBT NGO office in Tbilisi back in 2009 under the United National Movement government was motivated by homophobic or transphobic hatred and constituted a breach of human dignity.

In the case Aghdgomelashvili and Japaridze v Georgia, two applicants said they were ill‑treated by the police (on the grounds of their actual and/or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity) and there was no effective, domestic investigation into the case. 

The first applicant is a co-founder of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Georgia – the Inclusive Foundation (IF).

The incident took place on December 15, 2009, when approximately eight to ten women gathered in the IF office in Tbilisi to make preparations for an upcoming art exhibition. 

The same evening about 17 men and women, all dressed in civilian clothing, rushed into the office, presenting themselves as police officers.

The police officers announced that they were there to conduct a search of the IF office. However, they  did not show a search warrant or any other judicial order, despite the repeated requests which were voiced by the women present in the office.

At the beginning of the search the police did not know about the specific nature of the NGO. When they learnt about it the police officers started referring to the women in the meeting room as “not Georgians”, “sick people” and “perverts who should receive medical treatment”. 

The applicants claimed 2,000 euros (EUR) each in respect of non‑pecuniary damage. 

The government submitted that the claim was excessive.

  • In its judgement the court rejected the government’s request to strike the application out of the list and declared the application admissible. 
  • The court ruled the applicants were ill-treated and their rights were violated. 
  • The state will have to pay EUR 2,000 to each of the applicants.