Foreign officials about Tbilisi Pride: we stand together for right of everyone to live free, equal

  • On June 17, ruling party chair Irakli Kobakhidze said he thinks LGBTQI+ individuals] 'must not be allowed' to conduct Tbilisi Pride’ and that this would be a responsible decision. Photo: Tbilisi Pride archive, 30 Jun 2021 - 22:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

The diplomatic corps and international organisations have express their solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) individuals 'in support of equality and human rights for everyone in Georgia'.

In a joint statement issued earlier today the foreign officials urge the Georgian authorities ‘to secure the right to peaceful assembly for all people in Georgia without exception, and to enable these events to take place without participants having to fear becoming victims of hatred and violence’.

The signatories of the statement include the European Union delegation, the embassies of EU member states, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the United Nations in Georgia, and the Head of the EU Monitoring mission.

The Constitution of Georgia guarantees everyone’s right to assemble publicly and to the freedom of expression. This includes the right of LGBTIQ+ people to organise manifestations, public events, and their right to speak publicly about matters of their interest or concern”, the statement reads.

It further says that Georgia’s landmark Law on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of 2014 rests on the principle of equality as enshrined in the Constitution and prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

All States have a duty to facilitate and protect the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. It includes a duty to facilitate assemblies at the organisers’ preferred location and to protect assembly organisers and participants from those who may seek to undermine their rights”, the signatories note.

They also refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which affirm that ‘no human right may be invoked to destroy another human right’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified social and economic dividing lines, and deepened marginalization and invisibility of many people in Georgia. Exercising the rights to freedom of assembly and of expression are essential in empowering people to overcome their exclusion from political, economic and social life”, the foreign officials explain. 

Stating that ‘public assemblies are at the heart of a functioning democracy’ they further reiterate their prior call on the Georgian state, political, civic and religious leaders ‘to fight all forms of discrimination and prejudice, to take all possible measures to prevent violence and to instead embrace a respectful and compassionate public discourse’.

Tbilisi Pride, a civic movement which opposes homo/transphobia and fights to overcome it through exercising the constitutional right of assembly and manifestation, has scheduled Tbilisi Pride for July 1-5, which includes the Queer Fest and the March for Dignity.

On June 17, ruling Georgian Dream party chair Irakli Kobakhidze told TV Pirveli media outlet that the organisers of Tbilisi Pride should not have planned the events 'considering the current situation in the country and the context.’ 

Stating that the such demonstrations are ‘peaceful tools’ for political advocacy and one way in which the universal right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is crystallised, 30 members of European Parliament call on the Georgian Interior Ministry to ensure ‘sufficient and effective protection’ of Tbilisi Pride participants.