Georgia: clashes on International Day Against Homophobia

Georgia IDAHO_OnnikKrikorianEuronews, 17/05/2013 .- In Georgia, a rally for International Day Against Homophobia has been dramatically bombarded by priests and thousands of anti-gay protesters. Wearing religious and national dress, they marched into a square in central Tbilisi chanting nationalistic slogans.
Their motivation came from recent comments from the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who called the Gay Rights rally an “insult” to tradition.
Zaza Davitaia, who took part in the anti-gay demonstration said: “We are against the rally which comes in contradiction to Georgian morals and traditions.”
A Georgian Orthodox priest, Archimandrite Ioanne, explained why he was against the gay rights rally: “It is unacceptable in any way, especially today. It’s their plan to try our patience.”
Police escorted the gay rights supporters onto buses and drove them away to avoid violence.Organisers had hoped for a peaceful demonstration outside the old parliament building, with no more than 50 Georgians rallying in support of gay rights.
However, its thought at least 17 people, including journalists, were injured in the clashes.

Victory for homophobes. Defeat for Georgia

Unzipped: Gay Armenia, Yerevan/London, May 18, 2013

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, marked annually on 17 May, turned into a “National Day FOR Homophobia” in Georgia capital Tbilisi.

Local LGBT rights group planned a silent 30 mins flashmob, in order to draw attention to discrimination and other problems faced by LGBT people in Georgia. Yet, despite promises on PM level to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, they  attacked by homophobic thugs led by Georgian Orthodox church priests (!). By thousands (as per some estimates, up to 20K) of them. And this day will be remembered more as the day when hate occupied Tbilisi, and medieval instincts and rituals rather than rule of law prevailed.

And this happened in a country that is considered a ‘champion of democracy’ in the region, being ahead of neighbouring Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on effectively all indicators. Under the facade of “democracy” – we witnessed Middle Ages in Georgia.

According to the Ministry of Health, 28 people were injured as a result of violence. “Healthcare Minister, Davit Sergeenko, said that 14 of them, including one journalist, were hospitalized. Injuries are not life-threatening, he said.”

Reflecting the events, Making Connection blog writes: “We Are All Georgian LGBT Rights Activists”.

This, a day after ILGA-Europe published its 2013 Rainbow Europe package reviewing the situation of LGBTI people in Europe, giving Georgia the highest grade among the three South Caucasus countries.
And this, a day after the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, where Finland’s entrant Krista Siegfrids sang “Marry Me” and kissed one of her female back-up singers “to make a statement about the lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Finland.” (As far as I know, the song contest was broadcast in Georgia.) […]
Incidentally, tomorrow is also the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in which Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia will be competing. How great would it be if Georgia’s entrants, following in the footsteps of Finland’s entrant, ended their performance with a “same-sex kiss” or at least made some comment condemning the acts of the violent anti-gay rights protestors today?

Yes, 17th May 2013 was a victory for homophobes. But it was ultimately the day of defeat for Georgia.