A Series Of Attacks On Tbilisi Pride Office
For the past few months, the Tbilisi Pride office has been the target of intense attacks by religious and far-right groups. The attacks started following May 17, after we held an online demonstration, and, like 100 other citizens of Georgia, symbolically hung a rainbow flag from our office balcony.
The chronology of events is as follows:
· On May 23, members of far-right groups began gathering in front of the Tbilisi Pride office with the aim to remove the rainbow flag from the office balcony (overlooking the street). On May 25, they managed to remove and steal the flag, after which we hung a new one;
· From June 1, when the pandemic-induced restrictions were lifted and we resumed work in the office, far-right groups began holding regular rallies in front of our office. They held banners containing homophobic hate speech and often shouted at and verbally abused Tbilisi Pride activists;
· On June 7, members of radical groups threw black paint at the rainbow flag and our office windows;
· Throughout June, rallies and abusive demonstrations continued in front of the office on a regular, daily basis, counting attendance of up to ten people..
· On July 2, the far-right and religious groups organized a relatively large rally. About 50 people, including clerics, who recited prayers and poured “blessed water” on the street near the office, attended the rally. Protesters threatened to burn Pride activists: "we will pour gasoline and burn everyone," they screamed.
· On July 21, unidentified individuals threw eggs at the street entrance of our office. From July 21 to the present day (August 26) egg throwing is repeated almost every day.
We have repeatedly appealed to the police regarding the above-described events, which qualify as a crime (stealing a flag, damaging a flag and a building, throwing eggs). Ongoing investigations have so far proved ineffective.
It is obvious that these phenomena are manifestations of homophobia and transphobia. In addition to hate speech and hate-motivated crime, we believe that these events, and especially flag-related incidents, constitute an attack on our freedom of expression and human rights-related activities. The use of the rainbow flag is one of the most important forms of self-expression for us, as queer citizens. In addition, events such as homophobic banners, abusive remarks, religious rallies and egg-throwing are psychological violence against our Pride activists. With such aggressive, intimidating, and violent acts, the offenders not only keep the organization employees under constant stress and hinder us in our work, but also deepen their hatred towards us, as well as the stigma towards the LGBTQ community in general, and encourage others to commit violent, illegal acts. The months-long deliberate violence and harassment put activists in an extremely stressful environment and makes it virtually impossible to maintain a quiet, safe workplace and environment.
Based on the above-mentioned factual circumstances, it is clear that Tbilisi Pride, as well as its employees, are victims of such crimes as per the Criminal Code of Georgia as: violation of equality, violence, obstruction of public activities, persecution.
We appeal to the Ministry of Internal Affairs:
Investigate these incidents in a timely manner and impose appropriate sanctions on those responsible.
We appeal to the Public Defender of Georgia and our partner organizations:
Keep an eye on these events and respond appropriately.