ECHR Says Georgia Complicit in 2013 Mob Attack on LGBT Activists
The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Georgia in a case of a mob attack on LGBT demonstrators on May 17, 2013 – the International Day Against Homophobia – in Tbilisi, arguing that the “unprecedented violence” against LGBT activists occurred with the state connivance.
Court said that authorities had failed to protect the peaceful demonstrators from homophobic and transphobic aggression, calling the ensuing investigation into the matter “inadequate.”
The ECHR ruling found violations of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 11 (freedom of association), both in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, ordering Georgia to pay the applicants amount totaling EUR 193,500.
The Court argued that the Georgian authorities were aware of the risks associated with the event and that video evidence by independent journalists showed “official connivance in the acts of violence and underlying prejudice.”
In fact, the Court said, it “could not exclude the possibility that the unprecedented scale of the violence had been influenced by the authorities’ failure to carry out a timely and objective investigation into the attacks on the LGBT community” a year earlier on 17 May 2012 when queer activists similarly tried to organize a demonstration in Tbilisi.
ECHR also argued that the lack of tangible results from local police investigations of the 2013 violence “exposed the authorities’ long-standing failure – perhaps unwillingness – to investigate homophobic and/or transphobic violence.”
The application was lodged by 35 Georgian nationals and two non-governmental organizations – Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group and Identoba on 15 and 16 November 2013. The Court considered complaints of 27 applicants directly affected by the mob. The other eight, according to the application, managed to escape.
On May 17, 2013, a group of queer activists, marking IDAHO in an area adjacent to Freedom Square in the center of Tbilisi, were attacked by 35,000 to 40,000 counter-demonstrators, led by Orthodox priests. At least 28 people were injured in the violence that day.