Georgia: First LGBTI Pride in the South Caucasus test for the authorities

The Georgian authorities must do their utmost to ensure the safety and security of participants of the first lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Pride March in Tbilisi, Georgia, Amnesty International said ahead of the event (due to take place this weekend), in response to Georgian police statements that they may not be able to protect attendees.

“The Georgian authorities must not bow to pressure from homophobic groups and meet their mounting violent threats with defeatist remarks, but rather take decisive and strategic action to avoid disruption of the Pride event. They must fulfill their international obligations to guarantee the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as security of person and protection from violence, to all LGBTI people and their allies in Georgia,” said Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International’s Senior South Caucasus Campaigner.

The Georgian authorities must not bow to pressure from homophobic groups and meet their mounting violent threats with defeatist remarks, but rather take decisive and strategic action to avoid disruption of the Pride event
Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International's South Caucasus Senior Campaigner

“We salute the courage of the Pride organizers and call on the authorities to match it. It is human rights, dignity and justice that are at stake, no less.”

The LGBTI Pride week taking place in Tbilisi on 18-23 June will culminate with the Pride march. The organizers are yet to announce the exact date and location of the event due to ongoing security concerns.

A homophobic group led by a local businessman with close links to the Georgian Orthodox Church has vowed to organize a violent counter-demonstration to stop the Tbilisi Pride march going ahead and announced the formation of vigilante “civil guard” units to assault all those perceived to be part of the LGBTI community. The event organizers and many public allies of the LGBTI community have also received death threats.

The Georgian authorities have failed to adequately respond to these threats of grave violence. While the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation into “the establishment of illegal formations”, the Ministry’s officials met the organizers of the Pride march and simply suggested that they cancel the event due to the police’s inability to ensure the safety and security of its participants.

For more information see: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR5605522019ENGLISH.pdf