anti LGBT demonstrators Tbilisi 2013-05-17

May 17, 2013, thousands of anti-gay activists disrupted a small peaceful demonstration in Tbilisi to mark the international day against homophobia. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Anti-gay activists and clerics want to be more tough toward LGBT rights activists if the latter demonstrate for their rights on May 17, on the one-year anniversary of a violent attacks on them organized by Orthodox priests.

Pressed with multiple threats, the LGBT community in Georgia has not yet decided how to commemorate the international day against homophobia this year, and aren’t even sure whether to organize any event at all.

Basil Akhvlediani, archpriest at Akaurta Sioni Church, said: “If the May 17 [2013] events were not enough, the situation can get worse this year.”

On May 17, 2013, a small group of LGBT supporters organized a silent demonstration dedicated to the international day against homophobia, but several thousand anti-gay activists including radical Orthodox Christians and clerics, attacked them.

28 persons, including journalists and policemen were injured.

In a survey of human rights protection, the US State Department criticized Georgian police for not protecting the Georgian LGBT demonstrators.

Then Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili responded by saying that the police rescued people from physical abuse, as ‘these people [LGBT] have always been beaten in Georgia.’

Georgia’s treaty with the EU, the Association Agreement, has become entangled in this debate, as Orthodox activists see it as promoting gay rights. The treaty, which is expected to be signed by June this year, will include criteria like guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities.

„In order to implement their aggressive propaganda, they [LGBT advocates] try to summon the international society,” Basil Akhvlediani said. “EU and NATO membership can be considered suicide.”

Natia Kharatishvili, representative of Identoba, a group that advocates LGBT rights in Georgia and organized the May 17 demonstration, told DFWatch that they don’t have any plans, as it’s quite early yet.

“We don’t know what the organization will do for May 17 this year; it’s possible we don’t commemorate it at all,” Kharatishvili said.