Sunday

29th May 2022

EU alarmed by anti-LGBTIQ riot in Georgia

  • "What happened is not the Georgia I know" Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili said (Photo: wikipedia creative commons)

Most EU countries, including Hungary, have voiced solidarity with LGBTIQ protesters in Georgia after a violent mob halted their Pride march on Monday (4 July).

"We condemn today's violent attacks on the civic activists, community members, and journalists, as well as the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn this violence," the EU states' embassies in Tbilisi said in a joint statement.

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"Participation in peaceful gatherings is a human right guaranteed by Georgia's constitution. Violence is simply unacceptable and cannot be excused," they also said.

And they called on those who incited or carried out hate-crimes to be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law".

The signatories included the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Hungary also joined them, despite recently passing an anti-LGBTIQ law at home and having blocked similar EU statements in the past.

Israel, Norway, the UK, and the US also signed up.

They spoke out after a far-right mob attacked the offices of Tbilisi Pride, which had been due to hold a 'March of Dignity' in the city the same day.

They tore down rainbow flags, damaged equipment, and attacked journalists at the scene.

"Violent far-right crowds supported by the church and emboldened by an incredibly irresponsible statement of the prime minister gathered in Tbilisi centre to prevent the Pride march, attacking journalists and breaking into Pride office," Giorgi Gogia, from US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, said.

"I have no words. This is not a democratic country. This is not Europe," Tbilisi Pride director Giorgi Tabagari also said.

"The Georgian government failed Georgian democracy," he added.

Police detained eight people and the Georgian president also bemoaned the attack.

"What happened is not the Georgia I know ... It's not the Georgia based on its core values of tolerance," Salome Zourabichvili, who ran as an independent candidate in elections, said.

But the prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, had earlier spoken out against the Pride event, saying it was offensive to most Georgians.

Garibashvili comes from the Georgian Dream party of eccentric Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russian banking.

Georgia wants to join the EU and respect for minorities, including those based on sexual orientation, is an EU entry criterion.

But EU diplomats are sometimes wary of speaking out on LGBTIQ rights in the region in case it feeds Russia's homophobic anti-EU propaganda.

Meanwhile, in separate events in Spain, pro-LGBTIQ protesters took to the streets of Barcelona and Madrid also on Monday after a 24-year old man was beaten to death in a homophobic assault in the town of A Coruña at the weekend.

There were 278 incidents of homophobic hate crime in Spain last year, up 8.3 percent, Reuters said, but most of such crimes go unreported.

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