2013 Tbilisi anti-homophobia rally protests
|2013 Tbilisi anti-homophobia rally protests|
|Date||17 May 2013|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
An anti-homophobic rally was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, on May 17, 2013, the International Day Against Homophobia. The gay rights activists holding the rally were met by thousands of protestors opposing homosexuality, who were allowed to break through a police cordon and violently pursued them, beating and throwing stones at them. The rally, organized by Georgian LGBT-rights organization Identoba, was the first officially sanctioned anti-homophobic demonstration held in Georgia.
Two days earlier, Ilia II of Georgia, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, had called for banning the gay rights rally, describing homosexuality as an "anomaly and disease." The day before the rally, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that LGBT individuals "have the same rights as any other social groups" in Georgia.
Dozens of gay rights activists had gathered in downtown Tbilisi for the rally. A reported 20,000 Georgian Orthodox church members protested, led by church priests, and a clash ensued in Pushkin Park, near Freedom Square. Police forces allowed the homophobic protesters to run to the anti homophobia rally participants, as priests asked. Anti-homophobia demonstrators were evacuated by the police in buses, which were attacked by the counter-demonstrators. According to different sources, 17 to 28 people were injured as a results of the clashes.
The violence was widely condemned by foreign embassies, and non-governmental organisations including Transparency Georgia, the Georgian Young Lawyers' Organization and Amnesty International. Ilia II of Georgia condemned any violence, but reiterated his view that homosexuality is a sin and should not be popularized. The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation and promised prosecution of the perpetrators. Paul Rimple and Mark Mullen have described the events as part of a larger struggle between the church and the secular government.
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