MEPs call for Georgian gov’t to protect Tbilisi Pride protesters

  • Tbilisi Pride organisers have thanked MEPs for their support ahead of their events early next month. Photo: Tbilisi Pride., 29 Jun 2021 - 14:08, Tbilisi,Georgia

Thirty MEPs have called for the Georgian Interior Ministry to ensure ‘sufficient and effective protection’ of Tbilisi Pride participants between 1-5 July. 

The statement says that the pride demonstrations are ‘peaceful tools’ for political advocacy and one way in which the universal right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is crystallised.

They are a hallmark of the LGBTI activist movement, a pillar for social visibility and they are equally political demonstrations during which the community voices its concerns, highlights its achievements and gives the opportunity to its members to demonstrate in favour of equality,” said the statement. 

The MEPs said that the recent statement by the head  of the Georgian Dream ruling party Irakli Kobakhidze that ‘it is advisable for Tbilisi Pride events to be cancelled’ is in contravention of universal rights.

It is thus in this spirit of support that we address you, Minister (Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri), in order to ask not only that the Pride is, in line with the universal right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, effectively allowed, but also that all the preparations be taken so as to ensure the effective enjoyment of the manifestants’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, all the while availing themselves of authorities’ protection,” said the MEPs. 

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated earlier today that he thinks the conduct of Tbilisi Pride events 'is not reasonable.' 

He stated that the events may be 'incorrectly used' by certain groups from both sides (those who support and oppose). 

Kaladze said that freedom of expressed is 'absolutely ensured' under the Georgian Dream government. 

Top Georgian clerics have stated that in a country where more than 90 per cent of the country’s population trusts the church ‘there is no place for Tbilisi Pride.’ 

Earlier in June right-wing businessman Levan Vasadze, who has recently founded political movement Unity, Essence, Hope urged the government to cancel Tbilisi Pride events.

Vasadze said that the events will lead to destabilisation like in previous years.

We give time to the government until June 25 to cancel the events, otherwise people will react to the government’s decision,” Vasadze said. 

He stated that Tbilisi Pride events and march on Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi on July 5 will not take place anyway because people will gather there and will not allow ‘anti-Christian and anti-Georgian’ activities.

Right-wing activists and groups have already called on people to gather in central Tbilisi on July 5 to hamper the conduct of the Tbilisi Pride march. 

Tbilisi Pride organisers say that the government is ‘always indifferent’ to LGBT issues and the violations of rights of sexual minorities.’ 

This year Tbilisi Pride events will include three main activities: the official premiere of March for Dignity, a documentary about the first-ever Tbilisi Pride Week in 2019,on July 1, the Pride Fest with local and international artists on July 3 and the Pride March for Dignity, co-organized by local social movements, on July 5.