Georgia: Organizers cancel Pride march amid violence | News | DW | 05.07.2021

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Georgia: Organizers cancel Pride march amid violence

LGBTQ activists in Tbilisi say mobs had attacked their office, forcing an end to Georgia's first Pride march. International observers have decried the violence.

Protesters storming the building housing the LGBTQ campaigners' offices

Homophobic violence forced organizers to cancel Monday's March for Dignity

The organizers of the Tbilisi Pride march called off Monday's event following attacks from homophobic groups.

The LGBTQ activists had pushed ahead with their planned march despite political opposition and threats of violence. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had called the march "unacceptable for a large segment of Georgian society."

The Orthodox Church had called on supporters to take part in a public prayer against the LGBTQ celebration.

After a spate of attacks, including the ransacking of the offices belonging to the organizers and a motorcyclist driving into the crowd, the march had to be canceled.

"We cannot come out to the streets full of oppressors supported by the government, patriarchate and pro-Russian forces, and risk the lives of people," the organizers said in a statement published on the Civil Georgia news site.

Anti-Pride violence

A video shared on Twitter showed a group of men climbing into the organizers' building.

Police said they were investigating the incident, which included the damaging of media equipment in the campaigners' office.

Protesters, including Orthodox priests, also targeted journalists. Photos circulating on Twitter showed journalist Rati Tsvevara reportedly being dragged around by a priest after being beaten and harassed.

Anti-Pride protesters attacked some 15 journalists, OC Media reported, citing Radio Free Europe. The Interior Ministry reportedly launched an investigation into the incidents.

International outcry

Monday's March for Dignity was set to be the first pride event held in the Caucasian country.

German lawmaker Michael Roth tweeted his solidarity with LGBTQ communities in Georgia, expressing his support for those "who want to peacefully assert their constitutional right to be free and different."

The British embassy in Tbilisi called on the Georgian authorities to "prevent further violence" and to "protect individual rights and liberties of all."

US and EU diplomats already called on Georgian authorities to ensure the rights of all groups within Georgian society last week.

One of the Pride event organizers, Giorgi Tabagari, explained to the Agence France-Press news agency that the problem was the existence of a number of extremist violent homophobic groups, but that "we feel growing solidarity from Georgian society and from politicians."