Georgia PM shamelessly attacks ‘propagandistic’ Pride hours after death of man beaten by homophobes

Georgia Irakli Garibashvili

Georgia’s prime minister Irakli Garibashvili has said 95 per cent of the population is opposed to “propagandistic” Pride marches in the country.

The prime minister made his comments on Monday morning (12 July), just one week after Tbilisi Pride was cancelled when an extremist anti-LGBT+ mob descended on the city.

Kicking off a sitting of government, Irakli Garibashvili said it is “the opinion of our population” that Pride marches should not be allowed to go ahead in Georgia.

“First of all, what does it mean when they say parade?” Garibashvili asked, according to Georgian media outlets.

“I know only one parade – the parade of our army, which will be held in our country.”

Garibashvili went on to claim that police offered LGBT+ activists “another location” to hold their Pride march.

“When 95 per cent of our population demonstratively opposes the propagandistic parade, we must all obey it,” he continued.

“This is the opinion of our people and we as a government elected by the people must obey it. Police arrested the perpetuators. We will hold all the perpetrators accountable.”

Cameraman’s death has led to calls for Georgia’s prime minister to resign

The prime minister’s comments came just 24 hours after the death of Alexander Lashkarava, a TV Pirveli cameraman who was mercilessly beaten by an angry mob while covering the anti-Pride demonstration.

His death has enraged human rights activists and the LGBT+ community in Georgia. Thousands of people gathered outside parliament on Sunday (11 July) calling for Gharibashvili’s resignation, while media outlets threatened to stop covering government activities.

On Monday (12 July), Gharibashvili baselessly claimed that calls for his resignation were part of an “unsuccessful conspiracy” orchestrated by “anti-state and anti-church” forces.

“We all saw they tried to use this man’s tragedy for achieving their political goals,” Gharibashvili said.

There was widespread shock and revulsion last week when Tbilisi Pride descended into chaos, with pro-church forces and the country’s far-right convening in the city to put a stop to queer people’s festivities.

One widely-shared video showed two men scaling a wall and climbing onto the balcony of Tbilisi Pride’s offices, where they tore down a Pride poster to cheers from the crowd.

Tbilisi Pride organisers cancelled the event as violence spiralled out of control. More than 50 journalists were assaulted while covering the event.

Frustrations boiled over on Sunday (11 July) when Lashkarava was found dead. He was hospitalised last week after sustaining broken facial bones and a concussion.

There was an outpouring of anger as news of his death spread, with many taking to the streets to protest against the ruling government.