Georgia: Transgender woman found dead after fire in locked apartment

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Police in Tbilisi, Georgia are investigating the suspected murder of a 25-year-old transgender woman after her body was found in a locked and burned down apartment.

According to Democracy & Freedom Watch, the victim had appeared several times on television advocating LGBT rights.

Police believe the fire was started in an attempt to destroy evidence related to the suspected murder, but it is unclear whether they plan to treat the case as a hate crime.

Identoba, a Georgian LGBT rights group, has released a statement on the killing, warning that it was likely to have been a hate crime.

The statement said: “The police are almost always trying to not class homophobic-motivated crimes as such and charges of classic premeditated murder, hooliganism or some other charge is used to make it seem that the offender did not commit the offense in aggravated circumstances.

“Identoba calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to publicise details of the victim’s personal life, including her name and other identifying marks, but at the same time, since the crime has been made public, we request that they announce clearly whether the case bears signs of being a hate crime.

“Although there are frequent acts of violence against transgender people, not only in Georgia but also in other parts of the world, which are often fatal, in Georgia the qualifications bestowed on hate crimes remains an insurmountable problem.

“The media are generally not interested in the fact that the crime itself is horrific, but are notorious for their interest instead in the alleged victim’s orientation and gender identity. This has been corroborated by dozens of media representatives’ questions to us about the victim’s sexual orientation, in which they only ask for confirmation that the victim was LGBT.

“We appeal to media outlets not to make the tragedy and controversy a tabloid story. Every human life is precious regardless of the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Last year, a rally in Tbilisi to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was taken over by a violent mob of thousands who chased down demonstrators, forcing police to evacuate gay rights supporters.