MIA Says Tbilisi Pride Cannot Take Place Outdoors, Cites Safety Concerns

After meeting with the Tbilisi Pride, a non-governmental organization, organizing the event with the participation of the LGBTQI community, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs stated the planned parade should not take place outdoors, due to safety concerns for its participants.

“The representatives of the Ministry explained to the organizers of the Tbilisi Pride that it is impossible to carry out activities in the places they requested, taking into consideration the risks associated with the safety of persons involved in the process. The MIA offered Tbilisi Pride other alternatives for the gathering that would be more secure for the participants,” the statement of MIA reads.

The organizers of the event say they offered the Ministry offered two alternative routes, and neither of them was Rustaveli Avenue or the territory of the Government Administration, [the traditional places for demonstrations and rallies] but security guarantees were not received from the MIA. The ministry instead suggested they hold the event in a club or at the stadium.

Giorgi Tabagari, one of the organizers of the event, says it is unimaginable that the Tbilisi Pride march take place in a closed space. He added that the LGBTQI society had done their best to avoid any tensions and provocations on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, choosing not to hold any demonstrations. Tabagari says “it is regrettable the government does not reciprocate.”

Georgian NGOs also commented on the issue, saying the state does not recognize homo / bi / transphobia as a systemic problem and does not carry out a consistent policy to eliminate it.

“Against this background, mobilization of homophobic, xenophobic and ultra-right populist groups is increasing in public and the online space. Taking into consideration the high level of homo / bi / transphobia in the country, the LGBTQ community has refrained from marking May 17 (IDAHOT) in the last two years and emphasizes that the state and law enforcement agencies only try to hide the fundamental problems this community faces in everyday life,” the NGOs said.

The organizations call on the MIA to secure the right to the peaceful assembly of participants of the planned Tbilisi Pride week in the public space and take adequate measures to ensure the safety of participants at the peaceful assembly.

LGBTQI activist Nino Bolkvadze sent an open letter to the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, asking for “help and assistance on a hard way.” The letter reads that sexual minorities want to be recognized by others.

“We are neither monstrous nor demons,” Bolkvadze writes. We want others to understand that the similarity between us is much more than the difference. We share the experiences of other societies and see that the gap between us can disappear.”

The activist says it is necessary for LGBTQI people to come out and be seen.

“It is impossible to live when people around hate us… Please help us and understand us on this difficult path,” the letter to Patriarch reads.

The first pride event in Georgia, Tbilisi Pride, will be held June 18 - 23. The event hopes to raise awareness and spark healthy conversation about the LGBTQI community in Georgia.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Twitter

03 June 2019 09:04