In a statement today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Oslo Pride ask for proper investigations and safeguarding of the LGBTI community.
– We expect Georgian authorities to publicly condemn the violent acts we witness this Monday, says Mina Skouen, Senior Adviser for Equal Rights in the Norwegian Helsinki Committeee.
– Georgia is bound by their international human rights oblications, to ensure both the safety of their citizens, and freedom of expression and assembly. On Monday they clearly did not fulfill these obligations.
Tbilisi Pride was planned for the afternoon on 5 July 2021. During morning hours, counter protesters from the Orthodox church and far-right groups gathered, and this gathering escalated into a violent mob, without there being any adequate response by the police.
The mob broke into, and rampaged, the offices of Tbilisi Pride and later also other civil society groups. They attacked activists, as well as more than 50 journalists who were reporting on the event – causing bodily harm and preventing them from doing their job.
Instead of ensuring the safety of media representatives, activists and the public, representatives from the government spoke out against the pride organizers and called upon them to cancel the march, thereby providing de facto support for the hate groups.
Prime Minister Georgia Irakli Garibashvili also claimed it was organized by “radical opposition”, headed by ex-president Sakaashvili, attempting to further stigmatize the LGBTI community.
Throughout the day there was a manhunt on people that were perceived to be LGBTI in the streets.
Eventually the organizers had to cancel Tbilisi Pride, as the safety of the participants was clearly at stake.
Lack of commitment
The authorities’ lack of commitment and will to protect LGBTI citizens, which was demonstrated on the 5 July was clearly interpretated by the anti-LGBTI protesters, who celebrated their victory in the streets of Tbilisi when the organizers had to cancel the march.
– We have serious concerns that the way the authorities tackled the situation will be interpreted as endorsement of transphobic and homophobic violence and increase the number of hate crimes – which is already a widespread problem for LGBTI persons in Georgia, says Skouen.
– It is urgent that the authorities take action to show that there is no impunity for such crimes in the country, and that Georgia is prepared to uphold their international human rights obligations to all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.