LGBT Community Cancels Demonstration on Day against Homophobia

The Georgian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community has decided it will no longer celebrate May 17, which marks the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and has cancelled their planned demonstration outside the old parliament building today.

The decision was made after far-right and fascist groups in Georgia stated they would not let the queer rights groups hold a demonstration this year.

Co-organizer of the demonstration, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Equality Movement, which protects the rights of the LGBT community, made a statement saying the rally was cancelled in order “to avoid civil confrontation.”

The NGO recalled May 17, 2013, when the gay rights activists holding the rally were met by thousands of protestors and clerics opposing homosexuality, who broke through the police cordon and violently pursued LGBT people, beating and throwing stones at them.  According to different sources, up to 28 people were injured as a result of the clashes that day.

The organization says that during the May 12-13 protest rallies in Tbilisi last weekend, which followed police raids in nightclubs and the detention of several people, ultra-nationalist groups threatened to confront the peaceful demonstrators and the police were hardly able to stop them.

“An unprecedented mobilization has been announced by hostile groups against us, including the Patriarchate of Georgia and the fascist groups that allegedly cooperate with the political enemy of our country - Russian special services. These forces are preparing to arrange unrest and civil confrontation in the city,” the NGO stated.

The Equality Movement says that the LGBT community, NGOs and queer rights groups have made a consolidated decision not to celebrate May 17 this year in order to avoid possible clashes.

The NGO urged the Georgian authorities to realize their political responsibility in allowing the formation of ultra-right, radical violence groups in society, and encouraged them to paty better attention to these groups’ political goals and financing sources.

They also asked the Patriarchate and Fascist groups of Georgia to “stop inciting hatred and attempting to create civil confrontation.”

After the Equality Movement released their statement, one of the ultra-nationalist groups, Georgian March, stated they were also cancelling their rallies.

The leader of the group, Sandro Bregadze, stated they promised before that if the LGBT community abolished their celebrations, they would not hold a counter-rally.

“We are glad that May 17 will be a normal day – we will go to church and pray, as it should be,” he added.

The Orthodox Church of Georgia has also scheduled a demonstration on May 17, commemorating the Day of Family Purity.

Clerics, their parish and nationalist groups are to start the demonstration with an outdoor service at Kashueti Church on Rustaveli Avenue, which is located near the old parliament where the LGBT activists were to have assembled.

They will start a march with the Virgin Mary icon from Rose Revolution Square to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, where, in the afternoon, the Patriarch of Georgia will bless the gathered people and their families.

Mass wedding ceremonies are also planned today. As reported by the Patriarchate, around 400 couples will get married in various churches around Tbilisi.

The Orthodox Church of Georgia announced May 17 as the Family Purity Day in 2014, a year after the parish and anti-LGBT activists attacked the rally of anti-homophobia groups.

The Patriarchate has held demonstrations annually on May 17 since 2013.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: Equality Movement Facebook





17 May 2018 06:15