Protecting participants of events of the upcoming Tbilisi Pride is a direct responsibility of the government, a statement from Droa! political movement said on Friday, with the organisation calling comments by Georgian Dream party head Irakli Kobakhidze about the planned occasion “dangerous”.
Releasing their statement on social media channels, Droa! said comments by the ruling party chair included “dangerous messages not only for a specific social group, but everyone” and represented “selective application” in ensuring civil rights based on “political interests”.
The post from the organisation urged the government to make sure peaceful organisation of March of Pride – one of the two events of the Tbilisi Pride programme set for July 1-5 – and protect the right of assembly and expression of those taking part.
The [government] is attempting to […] shift responsibility for a peaceful carrying out of the planned events on to LGBTQI individuals and organisations protecting their rights
– Droa! political movement
The movement was responding to Kobakhidze’s comments on Thursday, where the chair of the party said it would have been “responsible” for organisers of the Pride to decide against holding the event due to “current situation in the country”.
Speaking to TV Pirveli channel following Tbilisi Pride organisers’ announcement of the upcoming events earlier this month, Kobakhidze denied his “personal view” was based on an attempt to “please the church”, referring to the Orthodox church of Georgia and its conservative positions on queer rights and events.
Making his comments on Friday, deputy interior minister Aleksandre Darakhvelidze said the ministry and police were “obligated” to protect rights of assembly and expression, adding police would act “according to law” during the events.
Levan Vasadze, a right-wing businessman who founded a conservative political movement last month, gave the government until June 25 to cancel the upcoming events, saying “otherwise people will react to the government’s decision”. He added citizens would gather on Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi on July 5 to prevent “anti-Christian and anti-Georgian” activities.
Events for LGBTQI rights have met violent response from conservative groups, citizens and clergy in Georgia before, with the most high-profile case taking place on May 17, 2013 when participants of a demonstration on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia were evacuated by police from a large group of violent counter-demonstrators.