Georgia President Warns Putin’s Anti-Gay Campaign Part of Larger Effort To Influence Ex-Soviet Republics
October 3rd, 2013
Buzzfeed’s report by Max Seddon is the only original source I’ve run across, but I think it deserves attention. Outgoing Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili told the United Nations General Assembly last week that Russia’s foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin is “fueled by intolerance” in a bid to increase its influence over other countries of the former Soviet Union. The Russian delegation walked out during Saakashvili’s remarks. Saakashvili later expanded his comments in an interview with Seddon:
Saakashvili is concerned that a wave of anti-gay pressure inspired by Russia’s law may spread to Georgia: Moldova has already adopted a similar law, and Armenia came close to doing so last month. In May, 50 LGBT activists who attempted to hold a pride parade in the capital, Tbilisi, had to flee after thousands of Georgians – led by Orthodox priests – chased them through the streets, roughing up anyone they suspected of being gay. In the aftermath, anti-gay Georgians told media that they were angry that tolerance was being forced upon them by the West.
Saakashvili says the Kremlin’s embrace of anti-gay policies is Putin’s last desperate attempt to rein in his old empire. “He had nothing to offer to his former zone of influence. He has no soft power. He has no economic benefits to offer them,” Saakashvili says. “So what he’s telling them: ‘OK, Europe is promising you much more, it’s a better market, they might give you subsidies, they might give you lots of new opportunities and openings. But what you should know is Europe is all about gay rights. If you go to Europe, your family values will be undermined, your traditions will be destroyed. So we as Orthodox unity, we should stick together.’”
In 1991 and 1992, Georgia fought a war against Russian separatists in the Georgian republic of South Ossetia. That war ended with much of South Ossetia in the hands of a Russian-backed government that was unrecognized elsewhere in the world. In 2008, Georgia launched an attack to regain control of South Ossetia in a war that saw Russian troops cross into Georgia to occupy South Ossetia and Abkhazi, where they remain today.
Orthodox Priests Lead Violent Attack On LGBT Rights Rally in Tbilisi, Georgia
May 17th, 2013
Orthodox priests led a mob of anti-gay extremist in a violent confrontation with LGBT rights marchers in the Georgian capitol of Tbilisi in observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Georgian police, which had been charged with protecting the pro-gay march, were forced to evacuate the fifty marchers onto buses as 10,000 Orthodox Christians began pressing against police lines:
But heavy police cordons failed to contain furious anti-gay activists led by priests, who rushed to the new gay parade location. Upon breaking into the public garden, the agitated crowd engaged in a violent pursuit, beating and throwing stones at all the people who were thought to be representing and advocating for the minorities.
At least 28 people were injured in clashes, and 14 of them hospitalized, Georgian Minister of Health David Sergeenko said. A journalist suffering blunt force trauma to the head and a passer-by who had his leg broken were among the injured.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said that LGBT people “have the same rights as any other social groups” in Georgia. When Georgian authorities announced that they would provide protection for the pro-LGBT rally after last year’s violent confrontations, Georgian Patriarch Ilya II said that the rally would be “an insult to Georgian morals” and described homosexuality as an “anomaly and illness.” According to the BBC,:
The Patriarch is by far the most respected public figure in Georgia, with approval ratings consistently at around 90%. All the anti-gay demonstrators our correspondent spoke to said the Patriarch’s comments had inspired them to attend Friday’s protest, which was organised with the help of Orthodox priests.
LGBT Rights March Broken Up In Tbilisi, Georgia
May 17th, 2012
Religious protesters, including Orthodox priests, broke up a march commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi today. About 20 pro-LGBT marchers paraded through the main street of Tbilisi when they were confronted by anti-gay protesters who blocked the marchers and began fighting.
“This shows that Tbilisi has a long way to go to become a modern European city. We expected a negative reaction but did not expect to be attacked,” one of the march’s organisers, Natia Gvianishvili of rights group Identoba, told AFP.
Police intervened when the fight broke out and at least three people have been detained. Georgia’s Parliament-appointed human righst ombudsman called for tolerance:
Georgian ombudsman Giorgi Tugushi said that politicians should address gay, lesbian and transgender issues because “only in this case it will become possible for our state and society to develop in a democratic and liberal direction.”
“The development of tolerant values is one of the most important preconditions for the formation of democratic society,” Tugushi said in a statement.
You can find more photos of the march at the Russian crowd-sourced web site Anti-Dogma.
Georgian LGBT group raided
December 26th, 2009
There is a report from the Inclusive Foundation, an LGBT organization in the nation of Georgia (located on the eastern edge of the Black Sea bordering Russia, Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan) of harassment by the police force:
On December 15 2009 the office of the Inclusive Foundation, a well known Georgian LGBT organisation, was raided by the police. They did not wear police uniforms, did not provide a search warrant, did not inform about their identity or agency they represented and did not explain the purpose of their intrusion. Members of the LGBT community were present in the office during the raid for a regular meeting of the “Women’s Club”. The men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks, such as ‘perverts’, ‘sick persons’, Satanists. They threatened to take photos of the women and disseminate them to reveal their sexual orientation. They also threatened ‘to kill’ and ‘tear to pieces’ one of the leaders of the organisation, Eka Agdgomelashvili, if she did not stop demanding the search warrant and identification documents of the police.
Georgia is one of the world’s oldest Christian nations and, being on the border between Christendom and the Muslim World, strongly identifies with the faith and is greatly influenced by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Although homosexuality was officially decriminalized in 2000, the society and the church are strongly homophobic and the gay community is likely to find little sympathy.
In 2007, a rally for diversity in Tbilisi, the capital, was mistakenly reported to be a gay pride event and the pressure from the church, the newspapers, and the public caused the even to be cancelled.