Tbilisi Pride cancelled the “March of Honour” and 48 journalists were injured in the attack by far-right violent groups
The LGBTQ+’s human rights organization, Tbilisi Pride, cancelled the “march of honour” due to the lack of security guarantees from the authorities and the inadequate response to the violence On July 5.
“We can not come out to the streets where violent people backed by the authorities, the Patriarchate and pro-Russian forces put people’s lives at risk,” Tbilisi Pride stated.
Ultra-right groups gathered at Rustaveli Avenue to protest the “March of Dignity” on July 5. The mob attacked and crushed several tents in front of the Parliament building used by the opponents of the ruling party. At the time when radical groups were crushing tents, the police forces were practically absent from the scene. After that far-right groups unfurled the European flag in front of the Parliament and raised the cross.
On the same day the same groups ransacked offices of the civil movement “Shame” and the LGBTQ + human rights organization “Tbilisi Pride”. The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation into the attacks on offices citing “damaging or destroying someone else’s property.”
According to Interpressnews, 48 journalists, cameramen and photographers from 16 media outlets were injured during the events in Tbilisi.
Foreign citizen was wounded in an attack on homophobic grounds. According to media reports, the reason was his earrings. The incident took place on Kosta Khetagurov Street, about 800 meters from the epicentre of today’s violence. According to Formula, an eyewitness said “the man was a tourist and the attackers thought he was gay”. According to media reports, he was allegedly first beaten and then stabbed. The Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed that one Georgian citizen has been arrested on charges of attempted premeditated murder.
According to the Prime-Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili “Mikheil Saakashvili (the 3rd President of Georgia), and the radical opposition” are pulling strings of the Tbilisi Pride
Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream, said amid a mass riot in the streets of the capital by homophobic groups: “Pride’s real goal was not to protect anyone’s rights, but to have subjective political interests behind it.” “What is happening in Tbilisi today is only in the interests of the radical opposition behind the Pride which is – the National Movement and its partner parties,” said Irakli Kobakhidze, adding that they had warned the Pride organizers about a possible escalation and aggression.
Up to 20 diplomatic missions in Georgia issued a joint statement condemning the violence against journalists and the raid on the offices of civil movements. “We condemn today’s violent attacks on the civic activists, community members and journalists, as well as the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn this violence. Participation in peaceful gatherings is a human right guaranteed by Georgia’s Constitution. Violence is simply unacceptable and cannot be excused. Those who incite or threaten violence or commit violent acts are interfering with the efforts of Georgia’s law enforcement professionals to uphold a safe and secure environment,” the statement said.
The President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili condemned the violence. According to her, “All incentives that promote radical actions, the polarization of society, stir up controversy, harm the country, threaten the stability of the state are unacceptable!”
Non-governmental organizations also responded to the events in the capital. The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) said that “the Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to effectively manage the process and mobilize an adequate number of police forces, which further contributed to the aggravation of the process.” According to the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), “state institutions fail to ensure the rights guaranteed by the constitution, which is why the organizers of Pride Week had to postpone the announced peaceful assembly.” According to Transparency International-Georgia, “a number of threatening statements have been made by members of violent groups in recent times, but the steps taken by the authorities are ineffective.” The European-Georgian Institute declared “full solidarity with all those who were injured today and who were unable to exercise their right to freedom of expression.”
In order to disrupt the “March of Dignity”, the ultra-right and pro-Kremlin groups started mobilizing in the centre of Tbilisi from yesterday. One of the leaders of homophobic groups set up tents near the Rustaveli metro station against “LGBT propaganda”. Bishop Jacob of Bodbe, the Chorbishop of the Patriarch, who was also spotted on Rustaveli Avenue, told reporters today that he considered the holding of the LGBTQ + Pride worse than Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region. According to him, Georgia will regain control over these regions, and the Pride will cause irreparable damage to the morale, spirituality and traditions of the Georgian people.