TBILISI PRIDE responds to statements by Georgian government at PACE
At the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, and the foreign minister, David Zalkaliani (also chairman of the Committee of Ministers of CoE), responded to the questions of MPs. Among them were the human rights situation of LGBTI community in Georgia and the developments around Tbilisi Pride 2019 upon which, the president and the minister gave the false information at the session. According to David Zalkaliani, regardless of the threats, the March of Dignity was peacefully held which represents the achievement of the Georgian government. And, according to the president, "the government is doing everything it can to protect these [LGBTI] rights and their freedom of expression" and that "law enforcement has managed these situations."
In addition, the minister has stated that in recent years the authorities had taken a number of steps for the effective implementation of anti-discrimination legislation – for example, by “conducting researches and awareness-raising campaigns”. Moreover, according to him, “politicians and public figures from the authorities pay close attention to LGBTI rights and condemn attacks against and violations of freedom of expression of LGBTI persons.”
We would like to remind the MFA David Zalkaliani, that the Georgian government publicly refused to protect the March of Dignity in 2019. ‘Do whatever you want, we won’t provide protection’, – this was the response from the Interior Ministry during the most difficult challenges and security risks that the organizers of Tbilisi Pride and other members of LGBTI community were facing.
The state didn’t do anything to counter the open, direct and real threats and violence of the hate groups. Moreover, they tried to ‘deal’ with us with extremely undemocratic methods. The authorities were constantly pressing us to cancel the March of Dignity and, in the end, accused us of collaboration with one of the opposition parties and an attempt to destabilize the country.
We believe that the Georgian state had all required resources to protect the March of Dignity; considering that they were informed about the pride week events in February 2019, they had more than enough time to plan. However, as we have witnessed, the ruling party did not have political will to protect the freedom of assembly and manifestation of LGBTI citizens. Moreover, there is a lack of political will to address the systemic causes of oppression of LGBTI persons. Neither the National Human Rights Action Plan of Georgia nor any other policy document mention any problems and challenges faced by LGBTI persons. The state has never conducted any research or awareness-raising campaign concerning LGBTI issues.
Unfortunately, the government of Georgia does not recognize homophobia as a social problem and the speech of the president of Georgia and the MFA at the PACE is a mere denial of systemic problems and the falsification of history! This is even more obvious as the actions of Georgian government and developments around Tbilisi Pride have come under negative scrutiny from almost all of the authoritative international organizations.
We call upon the Georgian authorities to take action against homo/transphobia and make tangible steps for ensuring the protection of LGBTI rights in Georgia, which will save them from the need of telling embarrassing lies in the future as well.