Hate crime

Council of Religions condemns 17 May violence

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სახალხო დამცველი Photo: facebook.com

On 20 May, the Council of Religions under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia released a statement concerning the facts of violence that took place on May 17, 2013:

"Each religious community must be committed to condemn fundamentalism, intolerance and violence based on people's identity, attitudes and lifestyle!

"Regardless of how we as religious communities perceive homosexuality, we all agree that violence that took place on 17 May cannot be justified!

"It is particularly upsetting, when violence is committed in the name of religion, when representatives of religious community instead of preaching love and compassion towards humans, they themselves commit violence, and even more and they lead others to violent behaviour and pogroms.

"What we witnessed on May 17 in the streets of Tbilisi is tragic and staggering! Large-scale violence and extremism that took place is not only very far from religious morals, but also totally lacks humanism!

"On 17 May, activists against homophobia were physically injured and became the victims of intolerance. Besides, unprecedented acts of violence put every one of us, as well as the future of our country, development of Georgia, constitutional order, rule of law, peace, security, integration and development of democracy in danger.

"On 17 May, we came to understand that the threat of fundamentalist tyranny is real!

"Therefore, we the members of the Council of Religions, jointly and unconditionally condemn violence and any attempt to justify it!

"We call upon the Government of Georgia to guarantee protection of human rights and freedoms, rule of law, democracy and secularity! Georgia should never return to chaos and impunity.

"We responsibly declare, that the organizers, instigators and persons who committed physical violence against the LGBT persons, their supporters, and journalists on May 17, should be held liable before the law irrespective of their belonging to civil or religious groups.

"In case the Government of Georgia fails to react adequately and punish the violators, there is a real danger of escalation of violence! We are well aware that persons belonging to any minority group may become victims of discrimination and violence in cases where state is ineffective to implement the law.

"We, the undersigned religious communities, call on all religious groups active in Georgia, and in particular on the Georgian Orthodox Church, to which most of the Georgian people belong, to take their responsibility for peace and the respect of the law and human rights and freedoms in Georgia. This is in the interest of the better future of our country.

"We must underline that this spirit was shared in the statement of the inter-religious group which met on the invitation of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchy on 15 May. We protest any attempt to misuse the statement for the justification of violence which took place on 17 May."

The Statement is signed by the members of the Council of Religions under the auspices of the Public Defender of Georgia:

South Caucasus Apostolic Administration of Latin Rite Catholics

Georgian Muslims Union

Evangelical Pentecostal Church

Evangelical-Baptist Church

Evangelical-Lutheran Church

The Salvation Army

Evangelical-Protestant Church

Word of Life Evangelical Church

Holy Trinity Protestant Church

Evangelical Church Firm Foundation

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