Tbilisi, May 19, 2015
As was announced at a press conference at the Georgian Patriarchate’s office, it was decided to hold a prayer rally on May 16-17 in connection with arrival of the wonder-working Atskursk Icon of the Mother of God to the Georgia’s capital.
A procession of the cross started with a solemn service at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the historical town of Mtskheta, then a festal procession with icons and church banners from Mtskheta to Tbilisi followed. After that a solemn service was performed at the Holy Trinity (Sameba) Cathedral of Tbilisi, reports Blagovest-info.
Simultaneously, a number of parliamentary deputies from the opposition, especially activist of the United National Movement (led by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili) Chiora Taktakishvili said on TV channels that they were disappointed with the decision of the Georgian Orthodox Church to hold a large-scale prayer rally right on the international day of struggle against homophobia, which virtually drove back those who wished to participate in that day’s festivities from the central city streets.
The cross procession with the Atskursk Icon of the Mother of God
The United States Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland, speaking on TV channels and news portals at the same time, called upon the residents to celebrate “the day against homophobia”. He expressed his opinion that every person has a right to realize his or her full potential.
“Tomorrow the international day of struggle against homophobia and transphobia will be celebrated for the eleventh time. On this day we once again express our support to equality and dignity of all people and confirm that human rights are universal. We join everybody who is laboring in Georgia so as to mark this day peacefully,” the American diplomat’s statement reads.
Nineteen Non-Governmental Organizations and human rights groups called upon the Georgian authorities to ensure safety of the activists who on May 17 were going to celebrate “the day against homophobia”.
The information on the venue and other details of the event (that was to be held on May 17) were restricted and the journalists were asked “to obtain accreditation”.
Through joint efforts of the aforementioned NGOs an action of solidarity with representatives of the LGBT community was held at “the Round Garden” circular park, situated in Vake – the most prestigious district of Tbilisi.
Police squads were guarding the rally participants. There were no reports of any incidents involving the defenders of traditional Christian values and the LGBT community representatives.
Also the action, “No gay Europe”, was organized in Tbilisi – with such a slogan people came to the office of Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, reports Geomigrant with the reference to Mir24.
The principal demand of the protesters is to cancel the fines of between 2,000 and 4,000 euros: the European Court of Human Rights imposed these fines on the Georgian government for moral injury to those who suffered during the rally against homophobia. The protest took place in Tbilisi in 2012.
“We have gathered here to fix our attitude towards homosexuality. There should be no place for this phenomenon in our country, and 99% of Georgian citizens agree with this. We are wondering where the European Union was when under Saakashvili demonstrations were broken up, people were murdered, prisoners were raped, and business was suppressed? Why didn’t they express their indignation and impose fines on the government then?” said chairman of the Society of Irakli II (an NGO) Archil Chkoidze.
According to activists of these NGOs, their actions will be held regularly and on a larger scale— in order to get rid of the propaganda of homosexuality in the country.