Georgian Pride March Canceled After Mob Threatens Violence
(Bloomberg) -- Organizers canceled a Pride march in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, Monday after a violent mob blocked the planned route and the government failed to ensure the safety of participants.
The U.S., the European Union and countries including the U.K., Norway and Israel condemned attacks by anti-LGBTQ+ protesters on community activists and journalists in Tbilisi and “the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn this violence,” in a joint statement from their embassies in Georgia.
Tbilisi Pride accused the authorities of doing nothing to protect the right to freedom of assembly as it announced the cancellation of its March of Dignity. “The huge wave of hate we are watching right now is inspired and supported by the government and police,” it said in a statement.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said earlier it was “unreasonable” to hold the march on the city’s main Rustaveli Avenue as it risked “civil confrontation” because most of the public regarded it as “unacceptable.” Georgia has repeatedly declared its intention to join the EU, which last month helped to mediate an end to a political crisis between the government and a jailed opposition leader.
Video on social media showed protesters ripping down a rainbow flag and banner then breaking into Tbilisi Pride’s office. Far-right protesters also smashed tents set up by opposition activists outside the parliament building and attacked reporters and cameraman at several locations.
Georgia’s Public Defender condemned the violence and demanded the prosecution of those involved “to the full extent of the law.”
The Interior Ministry, which had called on Tbilisi Pride not to hold its march because of the threats, said in a statement it was investigating the attack on the group’s offices.
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