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Georgia’s Homophobia Shuts Down Rally For Diversity

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2007

Human rights group Century 21 was planning a rally for diversity and equality in Tbilisi, Georgia. A careless reporter for the Georgian newspaper Alia confused Century 21 with a Georgian gay rights group which is also located in the same office building, and that paper unleashed a threatening, homophobic rant, mistakingly characterizing the rally as a “gay pride” parade:

“Let’s just see how ready our country will be to host a gay parade,” said the report in Alia. “But if the government gave them permission to do so, nothing can prevent them. Moreover, our police will defend the security of the pederast men decorated with jingling jewellery.”

The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church denounced the human rights rally as “an exhibition of Sodom and Gomorrah” and warned that it would lead to violance. A radio station denounced president Mikheil Saakashvili, saying he was “experiencing a strong allergy to all things Russian, old-fashioned, and imperial, will allow homegrown sodomites and a many-coloured assault of world pederasty on the streets and prospects of Tbilisi.” Century 21 called off the rally after receiving numerous abusive telephone calls, emails and threats of violence.

While Georgia no longer criminalizes homosexuality, violence against gays and lesbians is widespread in the former Soviet republic.

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