Tuesday, July 9, 2019

First ever impromptu Pride Parade held in Tbilisi

Organizers say around 40 activists and supporters of non-governmental organization Tbilisi Pride gathered outside the Interior Ministry on July 8, demanding Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s resignation and holding a small scale march in front of the Ministry.

LGBT people and human rights activists, as well as politicians and representatives of civil society organizations also participated in the rally in the Georgia's capital, which lasted for about half an hour.

“The government should now demonstrate whether it supports the West or the North, whether it is pro-Russian or pro-Western, whether it prefers democracy and human rights to Nazi movements in the streets of Georgia,” Mariam Kvaratskhelia, one of the organizers of Tbilisi Pride, said.

“Gakharia told us that he would not ensure our transportation to the venue and would not bring police officers to protect us. He left us face to face with these violent groups, who are ravaging in the streets of Tbilisi,” Tamaz Sozashvili, another organizer of the rally said.

He also noted that the today’s event aimed at demonstrating that they are “full-fledged citizens” of this country and “have the right to a dignified life.”

Giorgi Tabagari of Tbilisi Pride also criticized the government, saying the country needs normal authorities, who “will care for the country’s development.” “We will not give up public areas, because they belong to us too,” he added.

Georgia’s highly influential Orthodox Church had criticized plans by LGBT activists to carry out the march, saying in a June 14 statement that the LGBT lifestyle was a "sin" that goes "against the Christian faith, traditional religious teachings, and moral values."

The Pride March had been originally planned for June 22 but organizers postponed it after a violent police crackdown against anti-Russian political protesters in the capital.

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