Homophobia

LGBT Activists in Batumi Reportedly Abused by Police

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Photo: Facebook/ Levan Berianidze

LGBT rights organization Equality Movement reports that two LGBT activists in Batumi were detained and physically abused by police, including the director of the organization. The incident occurred in the early hours of the morning on August 25. Photos of the beaten activists were released.

“Today, on August 25th in the morning, Levan Berianidzé, Executive Director of Equality Movement, and Tornike Kusiani, board member of Equality Movement, were detained by the police in Batumi, Georgia.

According to the detainees, they were subjected to physical and verbal offence by the police officers on homophobic grounds. The activists are charged under articles 166 (Disorderly conduct) and 173 (Non-compliance with a demand of a law-enforcement officer) of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia. A representative of the Ombudsman’s office and a lawyer from GYLA are currently at the scene. Currently, Levan Berianidze and Tornike Kusiani were transferred from pretrial detention to Batumi City Court,” reads the statement issued earlier on August 25 by Equality Movement.

Batumi City Court later released Berianidze and Kusiani. Their trial will be held tomorrow August 26 at 12:00.

Activist Tornike Kusiani says he and Berianidze were in a nightclub when strangers started insulting them. Kusiani says he moved away from the scene but returned soon after, and found his transgender friend beaten and bleeding from the neck. Kusianidze says he tried to call the police but that one of the people who was harassing them grabbed his hand and prevented him from calling. The activists’ lawyer says police were present but didn’t do anything to prevent the violence against the activists. The beaten activists were afterwards arrested, while their attackers were not.  

Berianidze reported that they were verbally and physically abused by police when they were being taken to isolation rooms.

“After getting to the police station, the policemen told them to get naked and bend over,” the lawyer of the two activists says.

Their lawyer says the bruises on their bodies are very visible, and can be seen in the photos that were released later:

Equality Movement announced they will hold a demonstration to “Stop Police Terror” in front of the chancellery building of the Government of Georgia in Tbilisi on August 25 at 19:00.

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