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Tbilisi Pride Mission, Structure and History

Tbilisi Pride is a non-profit non-governmental organization that was officially founded in February 2019 by seven prominent LGBTQ+ activists and professionals and since that has been actively fighting for LGBTQ+ equality.

Mission of the organization:  Place issues affecting LGBTQ+ community on the political agenda, achieve policy change, and reshape public opinion through reclaiming the freedom of assembly and expression.

Structure of the organization: Tbilisi Pride is a member-based organization. Members make up the general assembly, which elects a board, and finally, the organization has staff (14 employees) including and led by two directors.

-       General assembly: Currently, Tbilisi Pride has 51 members who are mainly LGBTQ+ community members but also active allies. The main responsibilities of the general assembly include electing board members and discussing and approving changes in the organization charter.

-       Board: The board of Tbilisi Pride consists of 7 members. These currently are: Lela Tsiskarishvili, Ninia Kakabadze, Maya Verdzadze, Tsabunia Vartagava, Davit Subeliani, Tamta Chalidze, and Irma Gogiashvili. Board is responsible for electing the director(s) of the organization, approving the strategy & action plans as well as internal policy documents of the organization.

-       Staff: Tbilisi Pride currently has 14 employees including its two directors. Tbilisi Pride team consists of experienced community leaders and activists who already have a significant experience of organizing Tbilisi Pride week 2019, and 2021 and other long-term projects such as “Proud Families”, LGBTQ+ political memorandum, Emergency Fund for LGBTQ+ community, etc. Tbilisi Pride team has organized meetings with MPs, politicians, has worked actively and closely with embassies and international organizations within and outside Georgia.

History:

In 2019 Tbilisi Pride started its work by organizing the first ever pride week in the country. On June 18-23, 2019, Tbilisi Pride week consisted of three main events: A theatre play - 'Caucasian Metamorphosis', an international LGBTQ+ conference 'Equality in Public Space', and March of Dignity. Up to a thousand individuals had registered to take part in March of Dignity - the concluding event of Tbilisi Pride that finally could not be held as planned due to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia’s (MIA) refusal to protect us from violent homophobic groups. Nevertheless, our team and a few of our closest supporters (around 40 people) did not give up on public space entirely and organised a guerrilla rally outside MIA premises on July 8.

In 2020, an online demonstration-discussion was organized to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Politicians, government officials, NGO professionals, activists and ordinary community members made speeches on the human rights and equality challenges of LGBTQ+ people in Georgia. The online event was viewed by more than 300,000 people.

Tbilisi Pride has managed to gather the family members of LGBTQ+ people through implementing the “Proud Families'' project. Currently, the project unites forty mothers and twenty other family members. “Proud Families” is the only initiative existing in the country that unites and empowers parents of LGBTQ+ people.

On May 17, 2021, in an inter-party memorandum on LGBTQ+ rights was signed as a result of one year of intensive work by Tbilisi Pride. Political parties pledged their efforts to protect LGBTQ+ rights, including freedom of assembly and expression. It was an important step forward in putting LGBT+ issues on the political agenda in Georgia.

In 2021, Pride Week was held, consisting of three events. The week was preceded by a several-week large-scale information campaign and advocacy process. Extensive media coverage provided an opportunity to put the social and political issues facing the LGBTQ+ community on the political agenda. The premiere of the film "March of Dignity" was held during the week, as well as the first Pride Festival, which was attended by up to two thousand participants.

The concluding event of the pride week - March of Dignity scheduled for July 5 did not happen, as violent groups, with the support of the authorities, began to persecute activists and journalists from the morning, and we had to cancel the event to de-escalate ongoing street violence. On July 6, a rally was held in front of the parliament to show solidarity with the people who became victims of violence, in which 7,000 people took part. As part of the Pride Week and related campaigns, Tbilisi Pride and the LGBTQ+ community received unprecedented solidarity from various social groups.

Lastly, Tbilisi Pride has been operating Emergency Fund since 2020, where mainly foreign queers, supporters and organizations make donations to help the local community. During 2020-2021 Tbilisi Pride has provided finances to cover rent, utility, food, and medical expenses to 95 community members, a total amount of 54,540 GEL. Financial aid was provided to the members of the community most affected by Covid-19 pandemic and other crisis events. The needs were assessed by a team of social workers.