TBILISI, DFWatch–Orthodox Christian activists Friday successfully prevented a peaceful demonstration to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Tbilisi.
After numerous violent incidents throughout the day which led to more than twenty people being injured, the police attempted to evacuate the gay rights demonstrators and get them out of the city, partly using their own police cars.
But the evacuation began too late for one minibus which was surrounded by a large crowd of angry people at Kolmeurneobis Square, close to Freedom Square, who pummeled the minibus with stones and smashed its windows (see video below).
The Interior Ministry asked citizens to stay away from Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main street.
Identoba, an organization which works with promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people, had planned to hold a peaceful silent flash mob in front of the old parliament building at 13:00 today.
But clerics and parishioners of the Orthodox Christian Georgian Church asked in social networks to have the plans cancelled and planned to prevent the event from taking place.
At about 12:00, a police cordon was established around the entrance to the metro station Tavisupleba, which is the one closest to the old parliament building, and prevented citizens from joining the crowd. A second cordon blocked the main street Rustaveli, where hundreds of parishioners had gathered. They held Georgian flags, crosses, nettles, chairs and threatened to beat and kill homosexuals.
Then parishioners led on by clerics broke through the police cordon and moved towards the members of Identoba and their supporters who held banners demanding equal rights for every person.
There was a clash at Freedom Square, where parishioners beat the demonstrators. About 20 persons were injured in the confrontation. About 10 persons were beaten at Vachnadze Street, after the demonstrators left the area around Freedom Square, but parishioners chased them.
Ambulances brought injured people to the hospital. Police could be seen driving demonstrators to outside of Tbilisi’s city limits and other police were protecting the office of Identoba.
According to Rustavi 2, 10 demonstrators have been brought to the High Medical Technology Center. 5 of them are representatives of law enforcement, who have more serious injuries than the demonstrators.
3 injured were brought to the First Hospital at about 17:30. Two of them are employees of patrol police and one is Radio Fortuna journalist Khatia Kalandadze, who was hit in the head by a heavy object, but she does not remember what happened. She remains in hospital, but the other two injured have left the building.
Imedi TV reported that one foreign journalist was also injured.
Doctor Flora Kvernadze said one policeman has a wound on the left hand and the other one has ankle trauma. Both have been discharged from the hospital. Doctor Konstantine Mumladze said the patients have mainly injuries to the chest and skull.
Orthodox Christian activists are still staying at Rustaveli Avenue. “If we go, they will come and continue their immorality again,” said one of the congregation.