The Georgian Patriarchate says the ‘drastic interference’ of foreign officials ‘in our public and spiritual life’ through supporting Tbilisi Pride events ‘is a matter of severe concern and [is] unacceptable’.
Tbilisi Pride, a civic movement which opposes homo/transphobia and fights to overcome it through exercising the constitutional right of assembly and manifestation, is holding events on July 1-5.
The patriarchate has previously called on the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and diplomats in Georgia to refrain from supporting and encouraging Tbilisi Pride.
We hoped that they would not ignore the choice of the vast majority of our society, but the events of recent days have clearly shown the intense pressure which is being exerted on the country— Patriarch Ilia II (@patriarchGEO) July 3, 2021
However, the pride has received wide support from the international community, including ambassadors.
Ambassador of Israel Ran Gidor has tweeted:
Tonight I was proud to attend the premiere screening of ‘March for Dignity’ at Khidi club. This was the opening event for the 2021 Tbilisi pride events (1-5th July) pic.twitter.com/LWVYdFMGBE— Ran Gidor (@GidorRan) July 1, 2021
Ambassador of the Netherlands Maaike van Koldam has also tweeted:
A very impressive evening, I was happy to attend, to show and feel the solidarity with the #LGBTI community in ????????, reaffirming fundamental rights, celebrating diversity. Congrats to all! I am also thankful for the security provided by the law enforcement. მადლობა #Pride2021 https://t.co/w8tYIfiyUY— Maaike van Koldam (@MaaikevanKoldam) July 1, 2021
In its recent statement the patriarchate said they hoped 'the choice of the vast majority of our society' would not have been ignored, but the events of recent days 'have clearly shown the intense pressure which is being exerted on the country'.
Claiming that the goal of the the pride 'is to propagate a perverted lifestyle that damages the consciousness of the young generation and the generations to come’, patriarchate says 'this action causes tension and unrest among our people, regardless of their nationality or religion'.
The responsibility for all this lies with the organisers and supporters of these activities”, the statement reads.
Calling on the population ‘not to follow deliberate provocations’, and avoid violent confrontations, the patriarchate calls on the parish to gather at 5 p.m. on July 5 at Kashveti Church for a prayer service to ‘show the world that we are defending our dignity and that any attempt to degenerate our people is utterly unacceptable to us’.
Multimedia journalist Onnik J. Krikorian has meanwhile tweeted:
Great day. @TbilisiPride #PrideWeek passed off without incident and it was good to see European Union Ambassador @CarlHartzellEU present at the event. The guy on the right appeared to be the main guy in charge of the police that did a great job too. Many more pics to come. pic.twitter.com/GK45U8a0XS— Onnik J. Krikorian (@onewmphoto) July 3, 2021
The Georgian Interior Ministry has promised to ensure the safety measures during the pride by maintaining the rule of law and ensuring the right to the freedom of expression and assembly of each person.
Twenty individuals, who were detained on July 1 for attempting to disrupt Tbilisi Pride events, have been released.