LGBT activists in Georgia have cancelled a Pride march in the capital Tbilisi after violent clashes ahead of the parade. Violent groups stormed and ransacked the office of gay rights campaigners on Monday, Georgian authorities confirmed.
Activists posted photos and videos of people breaking into the premises and some journalists had reported that their equipment was broken in the attack. After scuffles between anti-LGBT groups and the police, the organisers of the 2021 Pride said they would be cancelling the event.
The Guardian reports:
Video and photographs showed anti-gay protesters scaling a three-storey building to break into the headquarters of the Tbilisi Pride march in the Georgian capital, while elsewhere men with long beards in priests’ clothing punched and kicked journalists, with as many as 20 injured.
One journalist said he was beaten with a stick while others reported having their cameras and other equipment broken.
Irakli Garibashvili, the prime minister, on Monday appeared to claim the Pride organisers had provoked the violence, saying it was “unreasonable” to hold the demonstration in a public place that could lead to “civil confrontation”.
From the US Embassy in Georgia:
Joint Statement of the Embassies of Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, the European Union Monitoring Mission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, UN system in Georgia, the United States, and the EU Delegation to Georgia concerning violence in Tbilisi.
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. Participation in peaceful gatherings is a human right guaranteed by Georgia’s Constitution.
Violence is simply unacceptable and cannot be excused. Those who incite or threaten violence or commit violent acts are interfering with the efforts of Georgia’s law enforcement professionals to uphold a safe and secure environment.
They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We call on all Georgia’s leaders and law enforcement to act swiftly to protect those exercising their Constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly, to protect journalists exercising freedom of the press, and to publicly condemn violence.