Georgia holds scaled-down Pride rally after threats of violence

tbilisi pride georgia

LGBT+ campaigners in Georgia’s capital held a scaled-down rally today (July 8), after Tbilisi Pride had to be called off due to threats of far-right violence.

Tbilisi Pride was due to be held from June 18 to 23, but conservative and religious groups threatened violence against people taking part.

According to Reuters, a small group of campaigners gathered for just half an hour in front of the ministry of internal affairs.

But co-organiser of the rally, Giorgi Tabagari, was still positive about the event’s impact.

He told Reuters: “Visibility is important. What this Pride has done in the past four months has been very significant and it will change the whole discourse about LGBT+ rights in this country.”

Tabagari said that they had planned to reschedule after the original protest was called off, but details were leaked to the media putting LGBT+ campaigners at risk again.

He said of the small rally: “There would probably be many more people going in the normal circumstances if we didn’t have the counter-demonstrations happening.

“It changed a lot in terms of [the] amount of people who went out, but it didn’t change the messages we had to say and it didn’t change the spirit and it didn’t change the visibility.”

Parade goers during Pride in London, which took place two days before the small rally in Georgia. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images for Pride in London)

The Georgian Orthodox Church said the idea of Pride in Georgia was “totally unacceptable”

Before the original Pride march was due to go ahead, the Georgian Orthodox Church released a statement in which it demanded the Georgian government stop the event.

The church said Tbilisi Pride was “totally unacceptable” and would provoke “disorder and confrontation.”

The lifestyle that the LGBT people are engaged in is the sin of sodom and thus contradicts both Christian faith and the teachings of traditional religions and moral values ​​in general,” the statement went on. 

Georgian ultra-conservative millionaire Levan Vasadze also said that if Pride went ahead he would recruit “squadrons” to tie campaigners hands with belts and take them away.