Georgia: LGBTQ activists cancel pride march after violence | LGBTQ News

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The “March for Dignity”, which the prime minister said should not continue, was called off after counter-demonstrators stormed the activists’ offices in Tbilisi.

Georgian LGBTQ activists canceled their “March for Dignity” pride event in Tbilisi on Monday after counter-protesters stormed and ransacked their offices.

The Tbilisi Pride group accused the government of failing to protect the “fundamental rights” of people amid the unrest, in which activists and journalists were allegedly attacked, local media reported.

It was not immediately clear how many people were injured, or to what extent.

Activists posted photos and videos on social media that appeared to show a crowd breaking into Tblisi Pride premises and tearing up a pride flag in front of a crowd outside the building.

Activists launched five days of pride celebrations last Thursday, ignoring criticism from the church and conservatives who said events had no place in Georgia.

While authorities promised to protect protesters on Monday, prominent community leaders and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili spoke out against the rally.

Tbilisi Pride said it could not continue Monday’s march through “streets full of oppressors” backed by the government, Orthodox Church leaders and pro-Russian anti-LGBTQ forces, warning that it would “risk people’s lives,” according to local media. reported.

PM warns of “civil confrontation”

A few hours earlier, Garibashvili had said that the “majority” of people were opposed to the march.

He warned that the event risked creating a “civil confrontation” and accused the opposition politician and former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and his opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM) of organizing the march with the aim of sowing “unrest” in the country, local media reported.

Giorgi Tabagari, director of Tbilisi Pride, denounced the Prime Minister’s claims as “unbelievable”.

“Shameful and highly irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister, this only worsens the already tense situation,” he tweeted.

Tabagari told AFP news agency he had hoped the march would be “of historical significance and demonstrate that attitudes towards sexual minorities are happily changing in Georgia.”

“We feel a growing solidarity from Georgian society and politicians, but there are still violent homophobic groups,” he said.

“State failure”

Social views have become more and more liberal in Georgia in recent years and there have been several Pride events.

But the country remains deeply conservative, with the powerful Orthodox Church clashing with previous Western-leaning governments on social issues.

The Church had called on its supporters to gather Monday afternoon for a public prayer against the pride march.

Last week, the US and EU diplomatic missions in Georgia, as well as the embassies of 16 other countries, issued a joint statement urging the Georgian government “to guarantee the right of peaceful assembly to all residents of Georgia without exception ”.

NGOs criticized Georgian officials for their failure to prevent the violence on Monday.

Giorgi Gogia, associate director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said the forced cancellation was a “big step backwards” and accused the authorities of “tolerating and tolerating” the situation.

The Georgian branch of Transparency International said at least 20 journalists were attacked during the unrest.

“You could say that their [the government’s] inaction is an encouragement to further violence against the media, ”the group said.

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