SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 August 2021, Thursday |

LGBT+ campaigners in Georgia call off pride match after office attack

After violent gangs opposed to the event invaded and ransacked their office in the capital Tbilisi, targeting activists and media, LGBT+ activists in Georgia canceled plans to hold a pride march on Monday.

Last Thursday, activists began five days of LGBT+ Pride celebrations in central Tbilisi and planned a “March for Dignity” on Monday, defying church and conservative protests that the event had no place in Georgia.

The planned march was thwarted by counter-protesters before it could begin on Monday.

LGBT+ activists shared video evidence of their opponents mounting their building to reach their balcony, where they tore down rainbow flags and entered the Tbilisi Pride office.

In other clip, a journalist’s mouth and nose were wounded, and a man on a scooter was seen driving at journalists on the street.

Campaigners claimed that the attack had broken part of their equipment, forcing them to cancel.

“Right now, no words can adequately express my feelings and thoughts. Today, this is my office, my home, and my family. When you’re alone in the face of extreme violence, it’s hard to know what to do “One LGBT activist, Tamaz Sozashvili, took to Twitter.

For security reasons, the Interior Ministry asked activists to call off their march. In a statement, it said that on Monday, several groups gathered and protested, and that journalists had been targeted with violence.

“We once again officially urge on ‘Tbilisi Pride’ participants to abstain from the ‘March of Dignity’… due to the extent of counter-manifestations planned by opposition organizations” it stated.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili remarked in the run-up to the march that he thought it was “unreasonable,” that it could lead to public confrontation, and that it was not acceptable to most Georgians, according to the Civil Georgia media outlet.

Human rights activists denounced the violence and accused Garibashvili of encouraging hate groups.

“Violent far-right masses encouraged by the Church and emboldened by PM @GharibashviliGe’s terribly irresponsible remark assembled in Tbilisi center to obstruct Pride March, attacking journalists, and smashing into Pride office,” stated Giorgi Gogia of Human Rights Watch.