Tbilisi, July 10, 2023
Thousands of people took to the streets of Tbilisi on Saturday, July 8, protesting against the LGBTQ Pride Festival that was to be held near Lake Lisi.
The event was to be the culmination of Tbilisi Pride Week, held July 1-8. Estimates vary on how many thousands of protestors came out, but it was enough to force the cancelation of the event.
The Georgian Orthodox Church, which represents about 85% of the Georgian population, issued a statement earlier in the week condemning “attempts to introduce a perverted lifestyle” in Georgia. LGBT propaganda is “inadmissible and unacceptable” and “violence against [the] consciousness” of the youth, the Church stated.
It is also noteworthy that the Church specifically condemned any violence against Pride participants. Unfortunately, some protestors against Pride events in 2021 did become violent, though the Church roundly condemned the violence and held its own prayerful and peaceful protest.
On Friday, representatives of various religions represented in Georgia, including the Orthodox Church, made a statement in the same vein.
“We can clearly see the attempts to start this propaganda among children,” the representatives warn.
However, Tbilisi Pride Week organizers moved ahead with their planned events. In response, thousands marched towards the site of the festival on Saturday, many carrying icons and Georgian flags. They managed to break through the police cordon and storm the stage of the festival, forcing its cancelation, reports Sputnik Georgia.
Some of the protestors began to burn LGBTQ symbols. Police were able to safely evacuate Pride participants from the scene. Thankfully, there are no reports of any injuries.
Tbilisi Pride issued a statement accusing the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the police of not doing enough to guard the festival. The forced evacuation of participants was pre-planned, the organization believes.
The Ministry said that even with 1,000 police officers on site, it was simply very difficult to completely secure an open air against so many protestors.
However, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also accused the Ministry of Internal Affairs, saying more needs to be done to stop violence and respect the law. She also accused members of the ruling Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia party of encouraging the confrontation.