On Monday, July 5, Monday, a violent far-right mob attacked the office of LGBT activist group Tbilisi Pride in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The attack took place when the activists were starting this year’s pride march. Many journalists and several LGBT activists were injured in the attack. LGBT activists called off the March of Dignity in the wake of the attack and organized demonstrations in front of the Georgian parliament on Tuesday.
The call for March of Dignity was given by Tbilisi Pride, Shame Movement, and Girchi-More Freedom among others. Activists alleged that “the government refused to perform its duty as the police did nothing to stop the violence.” Far-right mobilizations continued on Tuesday, celebrating the cancellation of the pride march.
According to reports, the protests were largely organized by far-right groups, followers of the Georgian Orthodox Church and political parties including Georgian March. Instead of condemning the attack, Georgian prime minister Irakli Garibashvili and the leader of the Georgian Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze accused ‘radical’ LGBT activists and opposition parties of provoking the far-right. According to them, the provocation led to the violent incidents by the far-right.
Various media houses condemned the attacks in which more than 50 journalists were injured. The Open Caucasus Media (OC Media) said that “a homophobic protest against Tbilisi Pride on 5 July turned into a pogrom against the press. While religious and far-right violence is a cause for concern, the legitimization and encouragement of such violence by the Government of Georgia is still more dangerous.”
Giorgi Tabagari from the Tbilisi Pride group told the media that the State Security Services may have been assisting counter-protesters throughout the day. On July 5, Tabagari wrote on Facebook that the group had privately changed the location of the Pride March five times during the day but the far-right protesters arrived at the locations ahead of them each time.
For years, LGBT activists have been facing attacks and intimidation from conservative, far-right groups. While several anti-discriminatory laws exist for the protection LGBT communities in Georgia, the country hasn’t yet legalized same sex marriages and doesn’t recognize same sex couples.