Police arrested several participants of a right-wing rally against the ongoing Tbilisi Pride Week in the city on Saturday, the local media announced.
Clashes between the police and the participants of the rally began after the latter tried to enter the closed area designated for the Pride festival.
The organisers of Pride Week announced they had to be evacuated from the territory.
Georgia’s Interior Ministry on Friday pledged to ensure safety for the ongoing Tbilisi Pride Week, urged organisers and participants of the potential counter-protests to comply with the law, “legitimate police requests” and refrain from violating the freedom of assembly, adding the law enforcement units would be prepared to “maintain law and order and security” in locations set to be used by organisers of the celebration.
The body also said it was in communication with the organisers of the events designed to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and highlight the rights of queer people, as well as with the Office of the Public Defender of Georgia, the United Nations and other international organisations, and diplomatic corps to ensure safe hosting of the events.
Earlier today, President Salome Zourabichvili called on the relevant agencies to ensure the safe conduct of the Pride Festival, citing freedom of speech and expression as a “fundamental human right, and anything that contradicts this principle is unacceptable”.
In their statement, Tbilisi Pride said no “street march” would be held as part of this year’s festival, and only registered attendees would be hosted in a “safe, closed space” for events of the programme.
In her recent comments on the incident, Zourabichvili criticised the Interior Ministry for not being able to prevent violence during the festival and noted two constitutional rights - freedom of expression and freedom of assembly - were violated in the country.