People marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17th outside the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia building in Tbilisi. The slogan of the demonstration was: "Do not stand on the side of violence!" The event was organized by members of the LGBT community.
The demonstration was heavily guarded by police. A number of clergy members and parishioners were trying to enter the area of the Chancellery building in order to disrupt the demonstration, but were blocked by police. During a small demonstration marking IDAHOT in 2013 on Rustaveli avenue, LGBT activists were violently attacked by a large crowd partially led by clergy members of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
At today’s rally, LGBT activists called on the authorities in Georgia to properly investigate cases of violence against LGBT people in the country.
“Positive legislative amendments were made in recent years, [however] negative attitudes towards people in the LGBT community have increased,” one demonstrator explained in an interview. “This makes it impossible for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people to utilize their basic rights. This negative attitude is present and expressed through physical or psychological violence, and discrimination. Instances of physical violence towards minorities are very common in Georgia.”
“Unfortunately, because of the existence of homophobia and transphobia in society, most of these offenses are unnoticed. That's why the main purpose of the demonstration ... is to attract public attention to the problems and challenges faced by lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex people living in Georgia,” a demonstrator expressed at the gathering.
Following the 2013 attack on the IDAHOT rally, in 2014, the Georgian Orthodox Church announced that the 17th of May as the Day of Family Purity, coinciding with IDAHOT.
Concerts were held today on Freedom Square and Rustaveli avenue in Tbilisi to celebrate Family Day, and organized by the Orthodox Parents’ Union. After the concert, members of the clergy demonstrated from Rose Revolution square walking to Gergeti Trinity church. A group of the clergy and parishioners separated from the main demonstration in order to disrupt the IDAHOT protest at the Chancellery building, but were prevented by police.
Tabula spoke with Georgian Dream MP Gedevan Popkhadze about the 17th of May. Popkhadze commented that both “The Day of Family Purity and the tolerance day [IDAHOT] are valuable for me… The 17th of May is both… Tolerance, for me, is that you should respect any kind of different opinions, whereas family is the inner world, where people form as persons.”
Movement for Liberty - European Georgia MP Sergo Ratiani commented instead referring to the violent attack on the LGBT activists in 2013: “Several years ago, the 17th of May was the day when the government could not fulfill its obligations to its citizens.”
According to a World Value Survey, Georgia is the third most homophobic country in the world, after Jordan and Iran, with 92.6% of the population unhappy with the idea of having a gay or lesbian neighbor. Only 27% of the Georgian population believes that it is important or somewhat important to protect the rights of “sexual minorities.” The discussion about sexual minorities is tied with Russian propaganda efforts; Pro-Russia forces label LGBT people as a Western import and fan the flames of homophobia, while presenting Russia as the guardian of "Orthodox Values.”