August 10, 2022

government responsible for the protection of participants in the pride of Tbilisi

The protection of participants in the events of the next Tbilisi Pride is a direct responsibility of the government, a statement by Droa! the political movement said Friday, the organization calling “dangerous” comments by Georgian Dream party leader Irakli Kobakhidze about the planned event.

By posting their statement on social media, Droa! the ruling party chairman’s comments included “dangerous messages not only for a specific social group, but for everyone” and represented “selective enforcement” to secure civil rights based on “political interests”.

The message of the organization urged the government ensure the peaceful organization of the Pride March – one of the two events of the Tbilisi Pride program scheduled for July 1-5 – and protect the participants’ right to assembly and expression.

the [government] try to […] transfer responsibility for the peaceful conduct of planned events to LGBTQI people and organizations protecting their rights

Droa! political movement

The movement was reacting to Kobakhidze’s comments on Thursday, where the party chairman said he was “responsible” for the Pride organizers to decide not to hold the event due to “the current situation in the country”.

Speaking to TV channel Pirveli following the announcement of upcoming events by Tbilisi Pride organizers earlier this month, Kobakhidze denied that his “personal opinion” was based on an attempt to “please to church, ”referring to the Georgian Orthodox Church and its conservative positions on queer rights and events.

In his comments on Friday, Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandre Darakhvelidze said the ministry and police were “obliged” to protect the rights of assembly and expression, adding that the police would act “according to the law” for the events.

Levan Vasadze, a right-wing businessman who founded a conservative political movement last month, gave the government until June 25 to cancel upcoming events, saying “otherwise people will react to the government’s decision “. He added that citizens would rally on Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi on July 5 to prevent “anti-Christian and anti-Georgian” activities.

LGBTQI rights events have already met with backlash from conservative groups, citizens and clergy in Georgia, with the most high profile case taking place on May 17, 2013, when participants in a protest in on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia were evacuated by the police from a large group of violent counter-demonstrators.